Citizen’s £500,000 installation at NDB pushes productivity levels in high grade fastener production

NDB Engineering is a highly specialist sub-contract fastener machining business. Its portfolio of fastener production contains many that are bespoke with most demanding high precision components machined from toughened and corrosion resistant higher grade super alloys including exotic materials, Hastelloy, Super Duplex stainless, cobalt and nickel alloys.

Said Managing Director Andy Williams: “With customers in oil and gas, MOD, chemical processing and power generation sectors, machining capability and quality are critical to our business platform and as being a small global machinist company, we cannot begin to tolerate errors.”

This he explains is why investment is so important leading to NDB spending £500,000 in the last 12 months on the latest turn-milling technology from Citizen Machinery UK. This budgeted spend funded through Citizen’s tailored finance package covered two Citizen Cincom L20-VIIILFV sliding head turn-mill centres and a Miyano BNE-51MSY fixed-head, turn-mill centre plus Citizen’s Alkart CNC Wizard programming aid, all now forming a critical part of the future business strategy. As a result, opportunities are being created to gain higher productivity and spindle utilisation with ever greater confidence in quality being maintained.

He said: “These machine installations have also saved us having to seek outside help to satisfy our growing order book as we were very concerned about loss of direct control especially over quality if we used outside sub-contractors.”

NDB was originally set up in Birmingham in 1998 with Mr Williams as a founder member. This led to him leading a management buyout in May 2017 with joint director Rebecca Dainter. Together, following the acquisition, they championed the direction and growth potential focusing on direct sales rather than through distributors bringing today’s head count to 41 people.

With sales of £3.1 million in addition to UK customers, NDB produced fasteners can be found in use around the world including Argentina, Australia, Brazil and even in China and India, each of which have highly competitive indigenous suppliers.

According to Ms Dainter: “During the last nine months we have invested over £500,000 on high specification material from leading European and American suppliers and therefore we view scrap parts as to be not only upsetting to our customer base but also being the cause of a large financial burden.”  She explained that over the previous 15 years the company had installed sliding head machines but swarf control was a constant attention seeking headache. It restricted output, without care could easily degrade quality and decimate our ideal productivity targets.”

She followed on to reveal how when Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) technology became available from Citizen they immediately saw the potential to bring greater security and control when machining difficult materials. She said: “By eliminating swarf nesting problems, that demanded constant attention from the setters, these have disappeared.   We have now really improved our productivity by having the confidence to run unmanned and on many parts we can go through the night giving us a massive leap in capacity with the added bonus of one setter operator running three machines.”

Mr Williams takes up the investment theme commenting on the decision to also buy the Miyano BNE-51MSY. He said: “The machine gives us a greater capacity than the sliding heads, is very rigid enabling us to use the power available to maximise productivity on larger bar size difficult to process material.” He then describes a nickel alloy fastener with a milled hexagon head that was previously a troublesome 6 min cycle time over three operations. It is now machined complete in one operation taking 2 minutes. He said: “We now have the ‘shortest route to invoice’ which helps our cash flow while making us so competitive with a level of accuracy we could only have dreamed of before plus an immediate gain in surface finish achievements.”

On the Citizen Cincom machines the patented LFV technology is not based on changing macros at the control but on the initiation of selectable G-code sequences programmed at the machine control to impart the most appropriate size of chip to be produced. This introduces oscillation to the action routine of the cutting tool backing it off through the servo axes in the direction of feed using the enhanced development of the machine’s special drive system. This happens in phases of tens of microns which are precisely synchronised with the rotation of the machine’s spindle.

The resulting controlled ‘air-cutting’ breaks the swarf into the designated chip length which prevents ‘stringing’ and ‘bird-nesting’ and can be applied to turning, drilling and even threading cycles. LFV can be switched in or out of the programmed cycle as required and helps reduce the on-set of built-up edge on the tool tip thus extending, as NDB quickly found, its in-cut life. LFV also allows deeper depths-of-cut and enhances the achievement of improved surface quality through the wiping action of the tool.

Said Ms Dainter: “We are still running with the same tooling as before and well-proven cycle times on the new Citizens are roughly the same. However, in our view it’s not all about that. What we are achieving is the machining of parts where we could suffer badly in achieving drawing demands and in some cases could hardly cut the material. Now we are very confident that all the parts produced out of up to 20 mm bar are successful. Our productivity has increased dramatically with the machines running continuously and with swarf problems eliminated, we can run one setter operator easily covering three machines.”

Cycle times on the 5-axis Type-L20-VIIILFV tend to vary between 52 seconds and two minutes. The machine has more than adequate 37 tool positions enabling further improvements to be made in the ratio of cost-to-performance. The main spindle is powered by a 3.7 kW, 10,000 revs/min motor and the back spindle has a 1.5 kW, 8,000 revs/min drive. The driven tools on the gang toolpost are 1 kW, 6,000 revs/min while the opposite and back toolpost both have 0.75 kW, 7.500 revs/min drives. The B-axis driven tools are powered by 1 kW 8,000 revs/min motor and rapid travel rates are fast at 32 m/min in each axis and 8 m/min for Y.

Meanwhile, the 8-axis Miyano BNE-51MSY has created a massive advantage in lead time reduction due to the ability to overlap in a cycle and cut with up to three tools simultaneously on bar sizes up to 51 mm diameter. The machine has two 12-station driven turrets one with three axes, the other with two that can simultaneously service either, or both spindles.

The main spindle has a 15 kW drive and the secondary 2-axis spindle is powered by a 7.5 kW motor. Both spindles have a 51 mm capacity with a maximum speed of 5,000 revs/min. Each driven tool position is ideal for milling with a 2.2 kW high torque 25 Nm drive and programmable speed of 6,000 revs/min.

Since the management buyout, NDB Engineering has also invested over £100,000 in revamping its freehold premises in Willenhall. Unlike many, the firm was able to avoid the recent oil industry slow-down as demand for specialist fittings from one customer in particular, a larger end-user in the oil and gas sector based in North America, continued unabated.

NBD Engineering supplies SAE, ASTM and ISO grade fasteners including the likes of stud bolts, hexagonal bolts, socket cap screws and nuts to upstream OEMs. It also supplies as well as high tensile fasteners, power coupling fasteners and safety critical high integrity fasteners to the defence industry which includes the MOD.

Meanwhile, looking towards the future, the two joint directors are now considering using their experience in UK and international markets to follow an acquisition trail. The idea is to build a small group of complimentary firms in order to create a greater breadth and future security for the business.

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UNICUT GOES FOR CITIZEN’S SIX FOR PRODUCTIVITY

Unicut Precision which has now bought 70 machines from Citizen invested over £1.5 million in seven machine installations during late 2017 of which six were by Citizen Machinery UK. The Citizen Machinery supplied machines comprised two Miyano BNE-51MSY fixed head and four Cincom L12-VII sliding head mill-turn centres, with one featuring Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) technology. This contribution to improve productivity targets has helped to increase 2018 as a clear sales record to the sub-contractor, putting the firm well in tune to hit sales of £5 million this year.

Unicut is shipping on average 1.2 million parts a month and processes 370 different product orders of which a third is directly exported. In addition, as the company has moved forward, it has added the responsibility to provide some 30 different ‘direct-to-line’ assemblies and sub-assemblies to customers.

The decision to install two Miyano BNE-51MSY fixed head machines followed the firm’s market review of twin-turret, two spindle turn-mill centres that could suit parts already perfected and produced in batch quantities between 2,000 and 5,000 on top-of-the-range Citizen Cincom M32 sliding head machines which were coming up to five years old. Continue reading “UNICUT GOES FOR CITIZEN’S SIX FOR PRODUCTIVITY”

CITIZEN’S NON-GUIDEBUSH CINCOM A20 SLASHES LEAD TIME AND INCREASES COMPETITIVENESS ON PLASTICS PARTS PRODUCTION

Colpa Precision Engineering has slashed weeks from its lead time with significantly reduced material costs plus the ability to obtain greater number of parts from a bar following the installation of a Citizen Cincom A20-VII with non-guide bush capability for use on plastics components.

Said General Manager Martin Branch: “The removable guide bush feature on the Cincom A20 has increased our competitiveness in a tight market as we no longer have to order pre-ground bar for plastics components which has not only reduced material cost, but also saved four weeks on our lead time to customers and has enabled us to pick-up new business.”

Colpa Precision Engineering was set up in 1946 having consistent investment with some £560,000 spent over the last three years with some six Citizen sliding head machines installed.

On the Watford site, 10 people are employed and production batches vary between prototype and customer development parts to continuous production runs such as involving the supply of 32,000 parts a month.

Colpa’s customer base covers a wide field including optical, electronic, audio, music, pneumatics, commercial air conditioning and certain aircraft industry companies producing parts from brass, mild and stainless steel, aluminium, titanium and a wide range of plastics including PEEK and acetal. Cycle times tend to generally vary between 45 secs and 2 mins. Continue reading “CITIZEN’S NON-GUIDEBUSH CINCOM A20 SLASHES LEAD TIME AND INCREASES COMPETITIVENESS ON PLASTICS PARTS PRODUCTION”

LFV TECHNOLOGY PROVES A DIAMOND INVESTMENT FOR TOOLING BUSINESS

At Astley Diamond Tools swarf problems totally controlled the business of machining silver steel blanks to which the firm then electro-plates diamond finishes for sale direct to customers around the world.

Astley Diamond Tools is a small two people business based in Witton, Birmingham that took the plunge and made a significant investment in the latest Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) turn-mill technology on a Cincom L20-VIII LFV from Citizen Machinery UK. Within just three months of installation, proprietor Ben Astley has been able to transform the firm’s blank turning operations for its diamond tool production while opening a new operational door by using his very competitive sliding head machining platform to provide a sub-contract small part turn-milling service.

Said Mr Astley: “A recent batch of 500 rotary diamond burrs that are used to fettle cast iron by a regular Polish customer. This normally meant I had to almost stand by my previous aging Citizen sliding head machine and stop it every five or so parts to clear the tangled bird’s nest of swarf. It would take at least 70 hours to produce the batch and now with LFV I can complete the same order well inside 16 hours.” Continue reading “LFV TECHNOLOGY PROVES A DIAMOND INVESTMENT FOR TOOLING BUSINESS”

CITIZEN ADDS LFV TECHNOLOGY TO HIGHER SPEED CINCOM L12-VII LFV FOR SMALLER DIAMETER WORK

Citizen Machinery has further developed the programmable application control of chip size through its world-leading Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) cutting technology by applying it to the 12 mm capacity Cincom version of the popular L-Series. The 5-axis Cincom L12-IILFV incorporates high spindle speeds of 15,000 revs/min, to maximise performance on smaller diameter work in a compact machine requiring just 1,760 mm by 820 mm floor space.

Available through Citizen Machinery UK, the Cincom L12-VIILFV can also be specified with a 16 mm capacity bar size option to extend the capability and maximise productivity from the in-built rigidity of the design to accommodate LFV technology. These include special build standards, slideways, bearings and ballscrews plus control and software.

LFV cutting technology enables precise programmable control of chip size while eliminating deflection on very small dimeters when turning. LFV can also be selectively applied to drilling, grooving or even thread cutting plus providing an important aid to machining difficult materials from plastics and copper to high alloy steels. Through the high speed Cincom control, the servo axes in X- and Z- can be selected to provide independent rapid oscillation of the cutting tool, creating in effect, air gaps in synchronisation with the rotation of the spindle.

The machine features a 3.7 kW 15,000 revs/min main and 0.75 kW 10,000 revs/min sub-spindle, a removable guidebush assembly for economic bar usage on shorter components, with a guidebush stroke per chucking of 135 mm. Rapid traverse rates are fast at 35 m/min to minimise non-cutting positioning times. Continue reading “CITIZEN ADDS LFV TECHNOLOGY TO HIGHER SPEED CINCOM L12-VII LFV FOR SMALLER DIAMETER WORK”

ROSCOMAC ADOPTS LFV – ORDERING MORE MACHINES

Such has been the impact of installing a Citizen Cincom sliding head turn-mill centre with low frequency vibration (LFV) cutting technology that Roscomac immediately increased its installed base to three machines, a further L20-VIII LFV and a smaller capacity L12-VII LFV.

Said Cell Leader of the Worthing-based sub-contractor, Sean Keet: “We had been experiencing constant problems with swarf when machining certain difficult components made from high grade alloy and some stainless steels plus copper, plastics and even some difficult specification aluminiums. Despite constant monitoring, we often faced significant levels of scrap or re-working, in particular due to swarf marks.”

He now maintains that production of parts has been totally transformed following the initial installation of the Citizen Cincom L20-VIII LFV turn-mill centre in July. He said: “Such was the level of realisation that within weeks Managing Director Joe Martello insisted we bring forward 2018 investment plans and immediately ordered two further machines with LFV.” Continue reading “ROSCOMAC ADOPTS LFV – ORDERING MORE MACHINES”

DAVTURN’S NEW BNE-51SY6 CREATES A COMPETITIVE CAPABILITY

Davturn, a small family-owned precision sub-contract machinist based in Bromsgrove has found increasing its production capability by installing a Miyano BNE-51SY6 turn-mill centre has added fuel to the burning desire to expand the five-people business into new larger premises. As a result, managing director Mark Birley maintains, such has been the impact of the new machine that moving premises will then allow further Miyano installations by Citizen Machinery UK to increase its operational capability.

He said: “We installed the multi-axis 51 mm bar size Miyano BNE-51SY6 to join our existing Miyano BNA-42DHY which had already proven to be an outstanding success for the business since its installation in 2012. At that time it enabled us to increase the size of bar we machine from our bank of five sliding head machines which limited our capacity to 32 mm. Now, with a 51 mm capacity this has immediately brought in a host of new orders.”

Mr Birley set up Davturn 13 years ago buying his first CNC machine in 2007. Joined by his son Matthew, who is now a director, deciding he would rather have a longer skill-based future in machining than he would as an young career footballer when he played for Premier League side Birmingham City. Continue reading “DAVTURN’S NEW BNE-51SY6 CREATES A COMPETITIVE CAPABILITY”

NON-STANDARD SOCKET SCREW (NSSS) BUILDS UPON FASTENER PRODUCTION CONSISTENCY, PRODUCTIVITY AND COMPETITIVENESS WITH 2017 CITIZEN CINCOM INSTALLATIONS

The specialist fastener operation of Midlands-based Non Standard Socket Screw (NSSS), a major UK producer and stockist of high quality fasteners, is continuing its policy of upgrading competitiveness by not only increasing levels of productivity with further ‘lights-out’ operations, but also achieving improvements to quality and most important, consistency of production, especially in more difficult to machine materials.

To help achieve this target, so far in 2017 NSSS has ordered four CNC sliding head turn-mill centres worth some £400,000 from Citizen Machinery UK. These machines are in addition to two existing Citizen Cincom installations in its recently extended 8,000 ft2 production area to the 30,000 ft2 Hockley facility.

The two Citizen Cincom installations of an L32-VIII and L20-VIII made earlier in the year are now in full production. Following the operational success, this has led the business to order a further Cincom L20-VIII plus a smaller capacity L12-VII.

Said Marketing Director Melvin White: “We are in a very competitive market and it is important to maintain our production capability for both UK and overseas customers. We are a modern business that is driving the use of automation and the latest manufacturing technologies to continually improve quality and output.” Continue reading “NON-STANDARD SOCKET SCREW (NSSS) BUILDS UPON FASTENER PRODUCTION CONSISTENCY, PRODUCTIVITY AND COMPETITIVENESS WITH 2017 CITIZEN CINCOM INSTALLATIONS”

HPC SERVICES ORDER CITIZEN LFV TECHNOLOGY TO BOOST DIFFICULT MATERIAL PRODUCTION

With the recent addition of an own product involved with fire suppression to its highly successful sub-contract machining operation, HPC Services of Ilkeston, Derby, has ordered the latest Citizen Cincom L20-VIII LFV turn-mill centre. By including Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) machining technology in the specification, Managing Director of HPC Paul Cobb maintains this will give his business a lead in the market by revolutionising his production of materials such as 321 corrosion resistant and 416 chromium steel alloy stainless steels and plastics type materials.

Said Mr Cobb: “This machine will enable us to competitively quote on new work which we would normally decline and will give us additional capacity as we build up production on our in-house developed water-based fire suppression system.”

HPC has currently 10 Citizen Cincom machines installed, with the last Cincom L12-VII currently very competitively producing components as part of a 40,000 a year contract. The plastics tube, 110 mm in length is turned and a hole produced through its length to a concentricity tolerance of 0.05 mm TIR. Said Mr Cobb: “So productive is the machine that we have reduced our cycle time from over a minute to just 12 secs.” Continue reading “HPC SERVICES ORDER CITIZEN LFV TECHNOLOGY TO BOOST DIFFICULT MATERIAL PRODUCTION”

CITIZEN’S LATEST TECHNOLOGY MEETS PRODUCTIVITY DEMANDS AT ROSCOMAC

Some 1.5 million parts are despatched a year from Worthing-based precision subcontract machinist Roscomac that is achieving record on-time deliveries of 98 per cent that vary from completed assemblies and sub-assemblies to large machined castings and small turned parts. The complete operation of the 85 people company is driven by a philosophy of constant development of lean manufacturing techniques, supported by investment often exceeding £1 million a year and an ‘open-liaison’ people strategy which keeps the workforce up to date on the company and any issues arising.

Said Managing Director Joe Martello: “We invest in automation and the latest production technology which helps to overcome the shortage of skills we would require. However, it so important that we still need to grow our own engineers through constant support and by training, in order to maximise our return-on-investment and so improve how we support and what we deliver to customers.”

In the first six months of 2017, some £750,000 had already been allocated or spent which included the installation of the latest Miyano BNE-51MSY multi-axis turn-mill centre. Two further CNC sliding head turn-mill centre machines have also been ordered and soon to be delivered, again like the Miyano, each is from Citizen Machinery UK. The two machines, a Citizen L20-VIII LFV (LFV featuring low frequency vibration cutting technology) and a top-of-the-range M16-V will bring the total Citizen installations to 14 machines as two earlier Citizen machines are being sold. Continue reading “CITIZEN’S LATEST TECHNOLOGY MEETS PRODUCTIVITY DEMANDS AT ROSCOMAC”

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