South West-based The Bowmill Group
, a long-established precision engineering specialist, has gone from strength-to-strength following a decison in 2019 to invest in new machines from Leicestershire-based Matsuura Machinery UK
Supplying predominantly to the aerospace industry, Bowmill, which employs 180 people across four sites in Gloucestershire and Dorset, can provide both volume and complex manufacturing disciplines; assembly, and test, grinding and material surface processing.
The sub-contractor’s journey with Matsuura started three years ago after securing a prime contract that required a high-accuracy machine which could also offer flexibility. As part of its research, Bowmill reviewed the MX-330 PC10, which offers a full five-axis capability and probing — critical for its required positional tolerances (3-4µm).
The machine also had the benefit of 10 pallets so it could run several component variations through the same machine utilising both unmanned/lights out operations, which provided a measurable competitive advantage from conventional methods and standard single table machines.
Having seen the machine in real-time automotive operation and after rigorous evaluation, Bowmill chose to invest in this machine for its flagship Dorset site in Poole.
After six months of running the machine and improving cycle times and implementing flexible manufacturing sequencing on not only the new components but also existing components, Bowmill decided to purchase a second Matsuura MX-330 PC10 for its Tewkesbury site in March 2020.
The MX-330 PC10 is configured with 10 pallets and 90 tools, offering Bowmill assured and reliably unmanned five-axis production, a route to growth and returning real value to their customers with efficiencies and productivity gained from this investment.
Some months later, the company required a larger five-axis machine (500mm cube) for its Tewkesbury facility and due to increasing customer demand, once again looked to Matsuura for the answer. Great flexibility, precision accuracy and reliability
Following the success of the first two MX-330 PC10, Bowmill decided to purchase a Matsuura MX-520, adding Bowmill’s innovative production models to the process, meant the company would have the option to move components from one machine to another using existing programs without incurring downtime.
Nick Epps, Bowmill Engineering managind director, said: “Despite the global situation, investing in the MX-330 PC10s and the MX-520 have been key to the future success of our business. The machines offer great flexibility, precision accuracy and reliability and this allows us to remain globally competitive and responsive to increasing customer demand and expectations.
“We have already seen significant improvement to cycle-times and OEE data on numerous components, this has been equally supported by the service and technical support we have received from the Matsuura team which has been exceptional — we are extremely pleased with our investments.”
Simon Higgs, Matsuura South West area sales manager, said: “It is great to see businesses like Bowmill Group investing in Matsuura automation and future-proofing their business.
“Matsuura’s automation delivers on its promises; running profitably unmanned at night and weekend, while reducing operator dependency and the associated labour costs. We believe automation is essential for UK companies to compete and thrive in today’s market.”