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Ajax machines in 13 million iSTEM Centre
Ajax machines in 13 million iSTEM Centre

Ajax machines in 13 million iSTEM Centre

Added to MTDCNC by Ajax on 11 January 2016

The brand new £13 million iSTEM Centre at Preston College is one of the largest training facilities of its kind with a 4,200sq/m footprint. This state-of-the-art training centre provides students and apprentices with a unique opportunity to train and develop their skillset in accordance with the needs of local employers. So, when the college needed machine tools for its facility, it naturally turned to Ajax Machine Tools and its diverse range of solutions for the education sector.

Speaking with Scott Cubitt, Preston College's iSTEM Head of School Science & Automotive Technologies, Scott said: 'The concept behind our iSTEM facility is to bring together all our technology such as science, engineering and automotive disciplines, and package them under one roof. We conduct aerospace, automotive, welding and fabrication and advanced engineering training and we do much of this in conjunction with industry partners such as Leyland DAF and BAE who will work with us to deliver training packages.'

'With regard to selecting Ajax machine tools, despite being a training facility, we also work closely with employers and local industry. So, if we are going to get our students ready for employment, we had to work out what would best prepare students for the workplace. Rather than looking at acquisitions from an educational perspective, we looked at our purchases from an industry perspective. We have manual lathes and milling machines that allow us to do core training, but when it comes to getting students ready for the workplace, we knew we needed equipment that is used in the manufacturing industry. So, we went out and we visited manufacturers in industry where machine tools are being used.'

'It wasn't a case of going to other colleges to see what they were using, it was a case of going to the manufacturers and realising what machines and skill-sets we had to deliver to our students. Upon seeing lots of different manufacturers at lots of different production sites, it was Ajax that really shone through for us. This is firstly because of the history behind the brand, a lot of manufacturers were either using or recognised the Ajax brand.'

Through Ajax’s northern sales partner, Noon Machinery Services based in Stockport, Preston College ordered 2 off AJEV180 CNC/Manual lathes with Fanuc touchscreen conversational control with an 8 station turret. This was accompanied by two AJV550 VMC’s with Heidenhain 320 CNC control, together with Heidenhain’s offline educational software for program simulation and training.

'When we actually got talking with Ajax, we realised that there was a lot more to the company than just a brand. The expertise of the company has seen us build more of a partnership with Ajax. The supply of machines, the set-up and the training for our members of staff has been outstanding. Similarly, we are really pleased with the Heidenhain controls on the Ajax AJV550 VMC. Ajax has helped us to develop a Heidenhain training and simulation centre with 20 stations, so students can do the CNC training and simulation training in a classroom environment before they get to the machine to do the real thing.'

'With regards to the installation of the machines, Noon Machinery came on-board and delivered right on schedule for us. Furthermore, the training has been fantastic, they've really done a great job for us.'

Discussing why Ajax Machine Tools are a popular choice for many schools, colleges and further education establishments, Ajax Sales Manager, Mr Ian Fenton comments: 'There are a number of reasons why we are the chosen supplier to many educational establishments and this starts with the choice of machinery that we have available. We actually deal with workshops where they have manual milling machines, lathes, sheet-metal and general workshop equipment such as grinders and pillar drills through to full CNC controlled machine tools with industry standard controls.

At Preston College, the Ajax CNC Lathes with a Fanuc controls and the machining centres with Heidenhain controls are being put through their paces. But as Mr Fenton continues: 'Customers can have any control type on any machine and this is something that manufacturers and colleges both appreciate. With regards to colleges, we can also provide software that enables the college to program the machine offline at a desk. This is something that is extremely appealing to colleges as it gives them a variation of control units across the spectrum of their machines.'


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