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Volz Engineering optimises machining processes

A good working relationship with Ceratizit UK and Ireland pays dividends for Rochdale manufacturer

Posted on 08 May 2024 and read 780 times
Volz Engineering optimises machining processesVolz Engineering”s operations director James Alletson (left) with Ceratizit’s technical sales engineer Matt Darbyshire

Rochdale-based Volz Engineering Ltd is a sub-contract machining company which services the automotive, aerospace and agricultural industries. With six CNC machines running 18 hours a day, Volz despatches more than 500 parts each week and there is no sign of this engineering firm slowing down the pace any time soon.

Volz Engineering, established just over three years ago by managing director Alan Reeson, started out making highly precise parts to exact specifications. Since then the company has expanded its range of services to also include engineering design, and Volz Engineering now prides itself in overseeing the whole manufacturing process under one roof — from idea, to design, to finished product.

Having worked with Sheffield-based Ceratizit UK & Ireland Ltd prior to joining Volz Engineering, operations manager James Alletson was keen to have Ceratizit involved in the new venture. Regularly visited by Ceratizit’s technical sales engineer Matt Darbyshire and application sales engineer Stuart Brooks, the engineers at Volz Engineering know they can always count on them for technical queries and tooling advice. Always looking to further optimise machine processes as tooling and cutting tool technology advances, the Ceratizit engineers recommend tooling on a company-to-company basis, considering the best interests of each business first and foremost.

VolzThe step drill from Ceratizit UK & Ireland (pictured in the middle)

For Volz Engineering, a stand-out example of a tooling recommendation which had the greatest impact was for a bespoke step drill. Required for a job where one hole needed to be drilled, but with different diameters at different depths, the manufacturer has previously been using multiple inserts to complete this job. However, swapping tools throughout the process meant that the overall reliability and accuracy of the finished product was reduced, and made it difficult for the company to achieve the critical tolerance of 0.02mm. The machine process, with the necessary changes to tooling, took a total of 26min. This is where Matt Darbyshire identified an opportunity to optimise this process.

Purposefully created to fulfil the manufacturer’s exact specifications and needs, Ceratizit designed and manufactured a totally unique step drill. As a result, the total machine process had been slashed by more than 50%, taking the time needed to drill each part to just over 10min. Moreover, the step drill allowed for just one machine process to achieve the different diameters needed. So, with no machine changes or tooling swaps needed, the overall accuracy of the final products increased, allowing Volz Engineering to easily achieve the precision levels required.

Game-changer

Mr Alletson said: “The step drill was a game-changer for us. Not only did the time taken to machine each part reduce dramatically, but with no machine interruptions we could achieve a greater level of precision. Since taking delivery of the bespoke step drill we haven’t had to replace the tool yet, despite the 500 parts a week it is constantly drilling.”

Impressed by the initial results of Ceratizit tooling, Volz Engineering began to switch more tooling over to Ceratizit products. This was followed by the installation of a vending machine for Ceratizit tooling on the shopfloor 18 months ago.

VolzMr Reeson said: “The vending machine not only means that we are never in a situation where we have to stop running machines due to lack of tooling, but it also makes it easier for us to keep track of spending. The transparency of costs through the vending machine means that exact cost of jobs are really easy to calculate, and it means that we can easily see how many tools we are using on each machine.”

As well as having the machine regularly serviced and restocked, Volz Engineering has 24/7 access to technical support and advice — a win-win situation for the manufacturer.

Mr Derbyshire said: “I’ve worked with Volz Engineering for a while now, and with James for even longer, so I have got to know the company and its processes really well. Having such a good working relationship with a company is important as transparency and honesty means that I can make better tooling recommendations for them. The step drill was an example where communication and a great professional relationship really helped create something extremely beneficial for the company.”

Volz Engineering now has its sights set on achieving more aerospace certifications and accreditations which will allow it to manufacture aerospace parts, and there are also plans to expand the operation into an additional site to meet demand.