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Newbury sub-contractor ‘weathers the storm’

Posted on 09 Apr 2021 and read 977 times
Newbury sub-contractor ‘weathers the storm’Berkshire-based precision sub-contractor Cadmatic Engineering Services Ltd recently invested in a new Doosan multi-tasking lathe supplied by Leamington Spa-based Mills CNC, the exclusive distributor of Doosan machine tools in the UK and Ireland.

The 8in chuck Lynx 2100LMB is a compact, powerful and flexible lathe equipped with a 15kW/4,500rev/min main spindle, 3.7kW/6,000rev min driven tooling capability, a tailstock and the latest Fanuc i series control with a 15in touchscreen. As part of the investment the Lynx lathe was supplied with a CNC bar puller.

Since its arrival in December last year, the machine has been put through its paces at the company’s 4,200ft2 Newbury factory machining a range of high-accuracy and high-performance press tool components that the company designs and manufactures for its automotive customers.

It is also being used to machine a diverse range of press tool replacement parts as well as associated jigs and fixtures and, increasingly, low-to-medium volume production of small, high-precision parts for a growing number of customers seeking to take advantage of the company’s sub-contract machining services.

Cadmatic Engineering Services, a family-owned, ISO 9001:2015 accredited company, started out as a precision toolmaking business in 2001 — designing, manufacturing and assembling new press tools for a range of automotive customers as well as providing comprehensive and proven press tool repair and modification services.

In addition to its design capabilities and machining expertise, which included milling, turning, grinding and wire and EDM spark erosion, the company also augmented these services by offering customers heat treatment, anodising and plating — becoming a complete one-stop press tool solutions provider. After a few years the company also began to diversify its operations — providing sub-contract machining services to customers.

Management buy-out

In 2020 the company was acquired by new owners and directors, Mark and Kerrie Humphrey. The husband and wife team, both employees at Cadmatic since 2018, began the management buy-out process in late 2019, with a view to taking full control in the spring of 2020.

Kerrie said: “We had always wanted to own and run our own business. We believed our joint experience gained from working in the aerospace manufacturing sector with its emphasis on advanced machining processes and machine tools, and where quality, accuracy and fast turnaround times are essential prerequisites to success — would stand us in good stead and would be invaluable in helping us grow, the general sub-contract machining side of the business, still further.

“Then Covid-19 struck. We really did not anticipate that one of our first jobs would be to furlough staff.” From April to June 2021 the company was operating with skeleton staffing and was essentially just ‘ticking over’. Mark added: “They were difficult times, but we believed in ourselves — and were confident that we could make our new venture work.”

From July onwards business began to pick-up. Automotive customers anxious about the 31 December Brexit deadline and its implications on their supply chains, began to ramp-up production - stockpiling components in case of shortages. Kerrie said: “The upsurge in demand from automotive customers helped to get us back on track.”

It was always the new owners’ intention to strengthen the company’s machining capabilities and capacity in order to increase its precision machining sub-contract business, and an audit of the company’s capabilities last year revealed that its turning operations required attention.

Integrated driven tooling

Mark continued: “We needed to improve our turning capabilities but, rather than just acquire additional like-for-like capacity, we decided to invest in a compact, multi-tasking machine that, with its integrated driven tooling functionality, could machine precision parts in one hit — helping us reduce part cycle times and lead times.”

The ‘pick up’ in business, experienced from July 2020 onwards, provided the company with the confidence to approach the market — investigate the options and alternatives — and identify the ideal CNC lathe for its requirements.

Kerrie added: “Although we had 14 machine tools at our disposal, none of them were Doosans. But, having done our homework, comparing the technical specifications, price and availability of a range of different lathes from a number of different suppliers, we opted for the Doosan Lynx 2100LMB.”

“It is a fast, accurate and flexible machine which, in addition to its powerful main spindle and productivity-boosting driven tooling capabilities, also features a fast 12-position servo-driven turret and the latest Doosan Fanuc i series control.

Mark concluded: “I particularly liked the machine’s fast turret indexing capabilities, which helps reduce cycle times, and the 15in touchscreen on the Fanuc control which doesn’t just look the part, but also improves visibility and facilitates fast and more-reliable data input.

“Mills was able to supply the Lynx lathe with a large Grippall CNC bar puller which has enabled us to use the machine for bar work and to run it unattended during the day shift.”