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Wealdpark Expands Machining Capability in Less than One Year with the Flexibility of Two Miyano ABX Turn-Mill Centres

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Such was the success of the decision by Precision sub-contract machinist Wealdpark to expand its production capability and invest in a range-topping Miyano ABX-64SYY2 fixed head turn-mill centre that within weeks of the new machine’s installation and commissioning the company took the opportunity at MACH 2014 to order a duplicate machine from the Citizen Machinery UK stand.

Wealdpark’s business had been largely based on 12 CNC sliding head lathes that were beginning to limit the majority of its customer base to components made from up to 32 mm bar size. The business already had two Miyano BNE-51SY fixed head turn-mill centres, which extended the bar capacity to 51 mm diameter, but the company’s three directors could see far greater opportunities by increasing capacity to 65 mm bar and having the flexibility to quickly change from bar to chuck, to machine parts direct from billets up to 165 mm in size.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, continuous investment has proven to be a strategic move by the family-owned business based in St Helens, Merseyside. Said Director Phil Smith: “In 2014, we invested over £500,000 in the two Miyano machines plus a vertical machining centre. By installing additional capacity and/or replacing equipment on a regular basis, we are not only able to profit from the latest developments but also feel this is being repaid by the fact that over 80 per cent of our work is repeat business.”

He forecasts an even brighter future with the addition of the two Miyano machines giving such high levels of flexibility for setting to optimise machining cycles. He said: “Additional work is being won and the company has the capability to take on more complex and therefore higher margin contracts.

Managing Director and Phil’s father Jim Smith added: “Guaranteed delivery, competitive pricing and, most importantly, maintaining consistent quality standards are our winning points. Last year we never received a single customer complaint or reject even though we were exceptionally busy. In fact, the company was so active that we beat all previous records for turnover and profitability with two months still to go in our financial year.”

Wealdpark‘s customer base spans the electrical sector with the supply of components such as specialist fuses, battery terminals, thermocouples, safety lamps and connectors; the fluid power (hydraulic and pneumatic) industry, producing piston bodies and control blocks plus the production of parts for instrumentation, defence, aerospace, oil and gas and fasteners. Currently 25 per cent of production and rising fast, is shipped throughout Western Europe, the USA, Mexico, Turkey, Bulgaria and Hungary as well as Thailand. Said Jim Smith: “With our new capacity and working knowledge of these areas, we know we have now created more opportunities to increase our export order book.”

The decision to buy the first Miyano ABX was drawn out over some 12 months, even though they maintain that as soon as a new machine is installed, they tend to quickly fill the capacity. Based on the existing installations of 12 CNC sliding heads, a Miyano fixed head BNE-51SY5 installed in 2007 followed by a used BNE-51SY, they drew up a list of requirements based on their production practices involving unmanned running at night and single operational cycle overlapping techniques that make maximum use of the flexibility and productivity gains from two spindles and two Y-axis turrets.

As a lot of work would involve milling being a key operational requirement, power and torque was high on the agenda and the machine had to satisfy the cutting of 303, 304 and 316 stainless steels and alloy steels as well as a growing need for machining aluminium.

However, the larger machine investment and complexity of the type of work they were planning to produce meant they spent time to be sure of the purchase, cymbalta online while keeping existing customer promises against a steadily rising order book. An initial six possible contenders for the machine sale were quickly reduced to three.

The three directors Jim, Phil and Stephen paid visits to existing users of the different shortlisted machines, taking on board their experiences before finally agreeing to order the Miyano ABX-64SYY2. The order package included FMB Turbo 5-55 bar feed, Hainbuch quick-change fixturing on each spindle, LNS Turbo swarf conveyor and Hydrafeed Rota-Rack rotary parts accumulator in order to prevent parts being marked or damaged, especially when running unattended overnight.

The Miyano ABX-64SYY is designed for simultaneous machining using its two 15kW, 4,000 revs/min main and 5,000 revs/min secondary spindles. Each spindle is supported by Y-axis cross feed turrets able to service both spindles when needed with 12 tool stations. Each turret can accept any combination from 48 fixed or 24 tools driven by 4.5 kW, 40 Nm of torque and 6,000 revs/min motors.

Phil Smith gives high praise for the flexibility of the Miyano ABX and recounts an urgent job where Wealdpark had to produce 10,000 ballstud assemblies for gas strut units. The drawings specified three separate components that had to be welded together then finished with the surface of ball being free of any defects or marks.

He said: “We contacted the customer and explained that with the Miyano we could eliminate welding and machine the complete assembly as one component in a single cycle within the timescale.” While foreman Neil Ireland programmed the Fanuc control at the machine, the free-issue material was collected from the customer and the machine run unmanned through the night and during the next day without a hitch, to meet the delivery. He said: “I would challenge anyone to make the parts, weld the assembly and achieve the level of quality we were able to deliver in the time frame.”

Wealdpark was set up in 1965 operating out of a disused toilet block in a former mustard works producing electrical industry parts such as switch gear, plugs and sockets. Jim Smith joined in 1968 as a cam auto machine setter. The company moved to the existing purpose-built machine shop that was filled with 53 cam machines and at that time employed 55 people producing volume parts such as 120,000 grubscrews a week.

Jim Smith became director in the 1980s and his appointment also drew in his two sons, Phil who joined as an inspector and Stephen as an autosetter.

In 1995, the Smith family acquired the business and they bought their first CNC machine in 2001, as Jim Smith maintains: “It so dramatically changed our business that it quickly led to CNC taking over and progressively leading to the 12 sliding heads we have today.” The workforce also progressively slimmed down over time to 24 people and now includes both Phil and Stephen’s sons and two other lads serving true production apprenticeships where they are being trained to run the sliding heads, Miyanos and two vertical machining centres.

Said Phil Smith: “We are really putting these apprentices through the mill. We took them to the EMO exhibition in Hannover and to MACH 2014 in Birmingham, where we placed the second Miyano order, so they could get a real feel for all the different aspects of production technology. They have been on training courses at Citizen Machinery UK and with Sandvik Coromant to gain tooling experience.”

For Wealdpark, a priority now is to find new premises close by in order to retain valuable skills of the workforce and to provide room for further machine installations. As vice president of the BTMA, Phil Smith will be taking further responsibility too, he becomes BTMA President in November 2016.

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