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Arefco invests £650,000 in Romi machine tools
Arefco invests £650,000 in Romi machine tools

Arefco invests £650,000 in Romi machine tools

Added to MTDCNC by Romi Machines (UK) Ltd on 23 July 2014

Arefco Special Products has the strategic intent to lift its current £6m turnover to over £20m by the end of 2020. It has enjoyed over 20% year on year annual growth since 2009 and became part of the American sealing solutions group Utex Industries Inc. in 2011.
Diversification based on core competency is a key part of the growth strategy and it has made a giant leap forward with the recent installation of two new Romi machines, a giant C-1600-H CNC lathe with live tools and a C-axis, and a GL-350B sub-spindle CNC lathe with live tools and C-axis.

Together these two machines along with tooling and measuring equipment add up to an investment of just over $1m or £650,000. These are the first machines of their type in Europe, with the GL-350B only making its UK debut at the MACH exhibition in April.

The company has its UK manufacturing base in Ashington, Northumberland, and has dealt with Sandretto for over 28 years, so when Romi acquired Sandretto and then added the machine tools division, Arefco Operations Director Albert Duhrin sat up and took notice.

'We know Romi-Sandretto provides really great equipment, support and service; we have eight of their plastic injection moulding systems and one of their smaller CNC lathes. When Romi then mentioned their full range of CNC machines to us we could see a real market opportunity as we had already identified demand for the capability to machine large diameter components for the oil and gas industry,' he says.

Arefco specialises in the manufacture of sealing solutions in elastomer, plastic and metallic technologies; signature technologies include rubber to metal bonded systems.  Arefco add additional value to their customers by providing design, product build, assembly and project management services. In addition to oil and gas they also serve the marine engineering, renewable energy, mass transit, aerospace and defence and chemical processing industries.

UK & European sales manager Alison Stewart says: 'These Romi machines allow us to solidify our engineering solution provider status by manufacturing the housing or standalone metallic component that complements the sealing system that we are already manufacturing.  By listening to the voice of our customers, we identified that there is a high demand from the oil and gas industry for large metallic products and a shortage of suppliers capable of servicing these needs; we have 30+ year pedigree servicing this industry to the required standard, safely, with complete traceability and reliability.'

The larger Romi C-1600-H machine is equipped with a Siemens control system, the smaller GL-350B with a Fanuc. Now the company can machine metal components up to 1.6m diameter x 5m between centres with a maximum weight of 22 tonnes.

The larger machine is currently being commissioned. Mr Duhrin emphasises the strategy and roll out is a combination of being operated by well trained and knowledgeable staff (Arefco has time served engineers and an excellent apprentice scheme) and this new advanced technology; that is needed to provide a customer-focused service that is robust and reliable.

'The machines are fantastic and they demonstrate that we are executing our growth plan by continuous investment in our key resources of technology and people,' says Mr Duhrin.
The Romi machines will handle a wide range of metals including mild metals, cast steel, hardened steel, high carbon filled steel, stainless steel, copper, brass and mesh. Mr Duhrin says his staff are time served engineers, so know how these different metals perform and so will be able to maximise the potential of the Romi machine tools.'In our view, automation is an aid to and not a replacement for tacit knowledge and skills,' he says.  

Commissioning is due for completion at the end of this month and then the company will go ahead full steam with production. Sales staff are already busy creating new opportunities and making existing customers aware of the new services available to them.

'We believe that given the demand for the larger components and a second Romi C-1600-H machine for next year is being considered already,' says Mr Duhrin.

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