can trace its roots back to the late 1930s when the current chairman’s grandfather started the business based near Wembley. It was in 1941 after the expanding company had relocated to Slough that the first Meddings pillar drill was developed. Although greatly updated, over the years, it is still sold around the world and remains central to the Group’s activities.
With drill production growing, the decision was taken in 1973 to relocate to Ivybridge, Devon, which has provided Meddings with room to expand and develop its own products. Meanwhile, the acquisition of swimming pool heating manufacturer Thermalec in 1999, an extensive sub-contract machining and fabrication operation, as well as the Group’s industrial supplies division have all contributed to the Group’s success.
Managing director Mark Dibbens said: “For the past three years, and the past 12 months in particular, the focus of the Meddings Group has been one of looking outwards, to develop our existing markets, not only for our drills and heaters, but also for sub-contract work, where we supply customers across many industries including marine, telecoms, electronics, oil and gas and automotive.
“Furthermore, we have reshored all manufacturing of our Meddings pillar drills and Meddings Thermalec products. New drill designs will be launched at MACH 2022
, and a planned expansion of the Meddings Thermalec range will open up new markets.”
To underpin this expansion, Meddings Group has undertaken a major investment programme over the past 12 months, spending over £1,4 million on capital equipment and facilities to enhance its machining and fabrication capabilities, the latest of which is an XYZ UMC-5X five-axis machining centre supplied by Burlescombe-based XYZ Machine Tools Ltd
Its long history is testament to the Group’s desire to deliver the highest quality of products and components, and this investment in the latest XYZ machining technology will ensure this can continue into the future.Flexibility and efficiency
Mr Dibben continued: “We recognise that market opportunities for our machining activities will in future be driven by the ability to have greater flexibility and efficiency in machining parts and to this end five-axis machining will be key.
“The potential for the technology is huge, with the ability to turn round jobs faster, reduce set-ups, and improve lead times on components that are becoming ever more complex and required in ever higher volumes.
Initially the focus of the XYZ UMC-5X will be on Meddings own products with the new developments of the Meddings drills and Meddings Thermalec heaters benefitting from the capability of simultaneous five-axis machining. For example, the new design of pool heater vessel, which at over 100kg in weight, will benefit hugely from reduced set-up times. Another product machined on the XYZ UMC-5X has also seen dramatic reductions in cycle times with one-hit machining cutting the cycle time of 15hr down to just 7.5hr.
Mr Dibben added: “Over the past 18 months we have faced challenges but have remained busy and we have recruited new staff, including apprentices. That period also gave us the opportunity to carry out strategic reviews of the business and prepare for what we see as an exciting year ahead.
“Our ongoing investment programme will allow us to continue our product development plan alongside gaining the versatility and flexibility in our machining capacity to meet the needs of not just our own internal production, but also our external sub-contract customers.”
The choice of XYZ Machine Tools for this move to five-axis machining was quite a straightforward one for Meddings Group, as the two companies have enjoyed a long-standing relationship over many years.
Mr Dibbens concluded: “The relationship we have with XYZ Machine Tools just works for us — the machines are high quality and competitively priced and the experience from initial inquiry through to delivery and after-sales service is just brilliant. Also with the XYZ factory just a few miles up the road in Burlescombe, we know we can call in at any time to see what is new or to seek advice.
“We have often thought of putting an XYZ sign outside and becoming a showroom for the company as over the years we have built up quite a selection of XYZ machines!”
Meddings’ current portfolio of XYZ machines also includes a heavy-duty XYZ 2010 vertical machining centre, a high-speed XYZ 1060 HS with fourth-axis capability, XYZ CT 65 LTY and TC 320 LTY Y-axis turning centres and the most recent addition to its turning capacity — the new XYZ CT 65 HD with bar feed.