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Sub-contractor on a roll with 17th Nakamura

Posted on 04 Aug 2022 and read 650 times
Sub-contractor on a roll with 17th NakamuraThe new Nakamura-Tome NTY3-150 at West End Precision

Bideford-based West End Precision Ltd (WEPL), a metalworking sub-contractor, has recently taken delivery of its 17th Nakamura-Tome turning centre from the www.engtechgroup.com Engineering Technology Group (ETG) – hot on the heels of its sixteenth Nakamura.

The company has endured challenges over the last couple of years like all businesses in the automotive, aerospace and general sub-contract manufacturing supply chain, but business is now booming with WEPL taking delivery of a Nakamura-Tome NTY3-150 just over 12 months ago and a WT150II this summer to meet demand. The company now has 15 sliding head turning centres, multi-spindle autos, centreless grinding machines and 17 Nakamura turning centres at its disposal.

Alex Dziurzynski, WEPL production manager, said: “We are predominantly a high volume manufacturer and we will typically set the machine and run it for an awfully long time. We do all the programming at the console, we don’t do any off-line programming and the onus is that once the machine has been set - it will keep running and running.

“This also helps us from an operator perspective as we can have one operator running a couple of machines - and as long as the machines are running and the spindles are turning, you are making money. The Nakamura machines give us that ability.”

“We are working a double shift just to keep up with demand. Of course, things went a little quieter a couple of years ago, but over the last 18 months, demand has soared. Our biggest customer has probably doubled in size and their demand has gone up massively - and we just have to keep up. Hence the level of investment we are putting into the business at the moment. We can’t continue with the equipment that we have got, so now is the time to invest as the opportunities are certainly out there.”

Discussing why the company has gone for the Nakamura-Tome NTY3-150 three turrect twin-spindle turning centre, Mr Dziurzynski added: “Originally, we completely gambled on this machine. It was a step into the unknown for us and with three turrets, it was a dream of our engineers – so we thought we would give it a go. We initially bought the machine to set up five very similar jobs for the same material.

“This meant we could tool the machine for the five jobs and run a batch of each job every week, so we could keep the machine running five different products in the family of parts. These are highly complex jobs which are against the grain of what we do, as we typically machine easier components and set the machine for high-volume parts.”

“It has always been the changeovers that have caused us the problem. However, in the last six months, our volumes have gone through the roof, so the machine that was bought with the older technology in it, was only ever making one component and this made it somewhat of a wasted resource.

“Since that time, we have had a very complicated job come on and that has gone onto the three turret machine. To go from a two turret to a three turret machine, we are getting the parts completed around 50% faster. This makes the production rate increase on the shopfloor massive. This suddenly gives you an understanding of what the NTY3-150 machine is all about.”

“The guys on the shopfloor are already asking ‘can we have another one please?’ It is a fantastic machine that is working perfectly well.”

Mark Hamley from West End Precision added: “When I first came here to start work on a twin-spindle machine, it was great to work on a machine where you can finish a part ‘complete’ on the machine without any secondary operations. Now, we are doing more and more complex work as the years go by - and we are doing it faster and faster.

“With the new Nakamura NTY3-150, we have load monitoring which is something we don’t have on the older machines. This detects any drill breakages and other issues and immediately stops the machine. It also detects when the cutting tool tips are getting worn and provide a warning. This prevents you from inadvertently creating any tool damage as it stops the machine and prompts the operator to inspect and change the inserts.”

Looking at one particular job that was previously done on an older Nakamura machine and has since been transferred to the Nakamura NTY3-150, Mr Hamley said: “We have one job machined from a billet on an old Nakamura machine that was too big for the spindle, we had to gantry load it into the machine.

“We can now put this job directly on the Nakamura NTY3-150 which has reduced cycle times from 5min 40sec to 3min 35sec. It has also cut out the second operation. This job now comes off the Nakamura NTY3-150 machine complete and ready to go to the customer.”

Looking at the quality of the Nakamura machines from ETG and the service and support, Mr Dziurzynski said: “Purchasing decisions often come down to the reliability of the machines and Nakamura consistently gives us very good reliability. Even with the old machines, the maintenance and performance are so good that they have sold themselves throughout history, which has paved the path for new machines as we go forward.”

With another WT150II machine just landing at West End Precision and ETG forward ordering machines to guarantee availability for its customers, Mr Dziurzynski said: “It is fantastic actually. There’s lots of noise about machines not being delivered and you cannot get machines.

“While I do not expect to get a machine tomorrow, I ordered a machine in February that has just been delivered and ETG were very honest and told us that delivery would take place in May - which it duly did. This has given us the ability to plan and they have done everything they said they were going to do — ETG has been fantastic.”

He continued: “There is absolute confidence in ETG to be able to deliver what they say they are going to do. They also recognise the number of machines we have on site, and they have taken another step forward and said - ‘do you think you will need another machine?’ without any prior commitment.

“We recognise we will need more machines and we have committed to another machine that is planned to be delivered before the end of the year - but we will review this in Q3 and decide whether we need to take the machine or not.”

Mr Dziurzynski concluded: “The technology continues to move on and this is evident with the Nakamura NTY3-150 triple turret and what it can do. What this machine can do is what dreams were made of years ago – and now it is the norm with Nakamura. So, they are stepping forward, they are not standing still, we are not standing stilll and neither is ETG. We are certainly on this journey together.”