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The opportunity to relocate to a purpose built, 100,000 ft2 factory on the outskirts of Gainsborough provided confectionary packaging machinery and process solutions provider, AMP Rose with the opportunity to review its manufacturing processes, in particular its machine shop.
Founded as AM Packaging in 1978 by Alan Mann the company initially focussed on servicing and refurbishing machines built by Rose Brothers and Rose Forgrove, the former laying claim to producing the first automated packaging machine back in 1881. This business developed until in 1990 Alan found himself in a position to purchase the rights to Rose Brothers and Rose Forgrove with the result being the creation of AMP Rose. In its current form it has grown to become a world leader in the design and manufacture of packaging and processing machinery for the confectionery industry, with around 80 per cent of its production going to export markets. Exports are strong at the minute, in part due to AMP Rose’s competitors being based in the Eurozone and the exchange rate is having a positive effect on its competitiveness. This is good news as the business continues to expand with 120 employees, 75 of which are on the shopfloor, and a regular intake of apprentices to allow the business to continue to expand.
AMP Rose tries to manufacture as much as possible in-house and with this growth in business demand on its machine shop grew. Therefore, when the relocation happened, Production Manager, Phil Brown took the opportunity to review its capabilities, with a view to reducing the reliance on traditional machining skills, which were proving hard to replace as older employees retired. The result was an investment with XYZ Machine Tools and its ProtoTRAK control system. “We had a number of manual machines on-site as well as some older G-code CNC machines,” says Phil Brown. “Finding the right skills to be able to be productive on these machines was proving difficult, so we needed an alternative. Looking around we found that the XYZ SMX bed mills with the ProtoTRAK controls could give us what we wanted in terms of ease of use and value for money.”
The positive impact that the two XYZ SMX 3500 and one SMX 2500 ProtoTRAK bed mills had on productivity turned attention to other areas of manufacture, namely replacing the older machining centres that AMP Rose had. With ProtoTRAK delivering on the ease of use front, Phil Brown decided to return to XYZ and order two ProtoTRAK LPM machining centres. Equipped with a 16 position toolchanger and an 8000 revs/min/15 hp spindle, the ProtoTRAK LPM is a highly versatile machine, with the added benefit of using the Jergens Ball Lock location system on its 900 by 500 mm table, something that is of great value to AMP Rose.
“Our production is limited to one-offs and low volumes so the ability to reduce setup times is vital. The ease of use of the ProtoTRAK control helps here, but the speed at which we can locate parts using the Jergens system on the LPM machines is a major benefit. We have a number of plates with vices and fixtures located on them and we know exactly where they are on the table using the Jergens location co-ordinates, which helps to simplify and speed up setups,” says Phil Brown.
Confirming the ease of programming when using the ProtoTRAK control, AMP Rose currently programs virtually 100 per cent of its components at the machine, the only exception being cam forms, which it generates on CAD and imports as DXF files. Dan Otter, AMP Rose’s head programmer and setter: “We find programming at the machine easy especially profiling and pocketing work which the conversational system of the PrototRAK guides you through with ease. We also find the LPM machines to be extremely accurate and repeat very well. The work we are doing often features tight, bearing fit, tolerances of around +/-0.005 mm and the LPMs cope with that easily.”
Following the introduction of the SMX bed mills Phil Brown’s aim of reducing reliance on skills and manual machining knowledge was achieved, with the XYZ machines eliminating five manual machines. Manual machines still have their place, of course, and AMP Rose’s most recent acquisition was an XYZ 1550 VS manual lathe to handle some toolroom-type turning activity in the factory. “Prior to installing the XYZ SMX ProtoTRAK bed mills I had never considered XYZ as an option,” says Phil Brown “Now, we wouldn’t be without them as they suit our production needs perfectly. In addition to the quality of the machine we are reassured by the back-up support and, as we like to keep machines for many years, the knowledge that XYZ can support machines with spare parts and service if required is an added incentive to work with them now and in the future.”
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