Robot Loaded Nakamura Just Keeps Running
UK subcontract machine companies don’t get much bigger than Metaltech Precision Ltd in Somerset. As part of the Expromet Technologies Group, the Metaltech facility has been expanded on multiple occasions to reach its expansive 50,000sq/ft site that is home to more than 40 CNC turning centres, more than 15 machining centres and a wide variety of conventional machines, fabrication equipment and metrology technology. However, the latest machine to be installed was a Nakamura-Tome WT-300 with an automated robot loading facility from the Engineering Technology Group (ETG).
As a company that operates in the aerospace, defence, automotive, marine, oil and gas, rail and marine industries, the Chard-based company has more than 80 staff that are dedicated to delivering exceptional quality products from prototypes and small volume work to larger production runs on its sliding head turning centres.
Discussing the acquisition of its latest machine tool, the Nakamura-Tome WT-300, Steven Ward from ISO: 14001, ISO: 45001 and AS: 9100 certified Metaltech says: “We purchased the machine last September and it was installed by ETG along with support and ancillary equipment from Hydrafeed.”
Alluding to why the company needed the machine, Steven continues: “A customer approached us with a substantial contract. We identified the requirement to machine a significant number of parts – in volume. Although we have existing fixed head and sliding head turning centres, we are conscious of how we utilise our personnel and the hours available to us in a normal working week. The Nakamura solution allows us to operate well outside our normal operating window. The cell works on the basis that the Nakamura with its performance monitoring along with the Hydrafeed Robojob system allows us to palletise either billets or we can bar feed the machine. That enables us to extend our running for lights-out machining, as our normal operating window from 6am to 6pm leaves us with a 12-hour dead period. Within that 12-hour dead period, we are now able to continue manufacturing using the Nakamura-Tome WT-300 and Hydrafeed Robojob system that we have purchased.”
With through spindle bar capacity options for bar feeding of 65, 71, 80 or 102mm and a maximum turning diameter of 270mm, the twin-spindle twin-turret Nakamura-Tome WT-300 is perfect for accommodating the bar turning and billet loading demands of Metaltech. Available with an option of the 15/11kW or 18.5/15kW spindle motor on the main and sub-spindle and a maximum turning length of up to 780mm, the heavy-duty Nakamura-Tome WT-300 is the perfect all-rounder for any machine shop that demands the utmost in precision and productivity on a sturdy foundation that will inevitably improve component quality and consistency.
Discussing if the automation route is the only way to remain competitive, Steven adds: “I think businesses must consider in general. You have two expensive assets in the business, one is your machinery and the other is your personnel. You have to consider how you best utilise both of those assets. Considering the skill set of staff, you have to understand and ask if they are better utilised on more complex tasks that are maybe smaller batch volumes or 1 and 2-offs. In essence, do you need them to stand there and do a 1000-off, putting a cherry on the cake.” It is this consideration for its staff that sees Metaltech having BS OHSAS 180001 Occupational Health & Safety certification, priding itself on its ‘Investment in People’ culture.
Highlighting how the staff are utilised with the Nakamura-Tome WT-300 automation cell, Steven says: “We have several people in the machining section trained to come up to check and monitor the machine. The machine itself has a very stringent monitoring facility within it, so even the slightest problem and the machine will alarm out. We are also able to operate outside normal working hours because we have remote access to the machine via its software. So, we can actually see what is going on via the axes loading technology and deal with any issues from there.”
Looking more specifically at the Nakamura-Tome WT-300 and why it is the ideal solution for Metaltech Precision Ltd, Steven adds: “We gave consideration to other manufacturers before going down the Nakamura route. However, there were a number of factors that came into it and it was not necessarily a cost-based decision. Our decision was based on performance and availability and how that fits into the model of our business. As an overall product, the Nakamura answered all our questions and the ease of programming has been proven by how quickly our team have managed to get full utilisation out of the machine – this even includes facilities like balanced machining. So, putting in the weight code has been very easy and we haven’t needed specialised software to do that, it can all be done at the machine.”