In October of 2007 Portchester Engineering took delivery of a Mazak INTEGREX 200-IV S, this multi-tasking machine tool was seen as a major investment and leap in technology for the Fareham, Hampshire-based sub-contractor, which at the time had limited two- and three-axis CNC capacity.
However, the extended capability that the INTEGREX gave to the company quickly generated new business from existing customers and created a lot of interest from new customers.
'The success of the Integrex certainly justified the investment that we made and we quickly started to think about where we went next,' says Samantha Morrison, Managing Director, Portchester Engineering. 'It did cross our mind to purchase a second Integrex but we also recognised that we needed to upgrade some of our older CNC machine tools and increase capacity in terms of turning and machining centre work.'
Taking this into account Portchester decided to replace an existing machining centre and a lathe with a Mazak VERTICAL CENTRE NEXUS 510C-II machining centre and a QUICK TURN NEXUS 250-II MY turning centre.
'The success of the Integrex certainly justified the investment that we made'
These machines were enhanced with an optional fourth axis on the VERTICAL CENTRE NEXUS 510C-II and a barfeed unit on the QUICK TURN NEXUS 250-II MY. 'The addition of these two machines has enabled us to bring in-house some work that we previously had to sub-contract due to lack of capacity,' says Samantha Morrison. “We are also winning new business due to the increased capability of the Mazak machines, compared to our previous machine tools.'
Portchester is gaining all round as the VERTICAL CENTRE NEXUS 510C-II machining centre is equipped with a 12 000 rev/min, 18.5 kW, integral spindle motor with a 40 taper spindle nose. And, while it has a relatively large machining area, with a table measuring 1300 mm by 550 mm, it is also very agile with rapid traverse rates of 36 m/min in each of the X, Y and Z axes. Likewise, the QUICK TURN NEXUS 250-II MY provides a highly productive machining platform.
With a maximum machining diameter of 380 mm and a bar capacity of 77 mm diameter it is capable of machining a wide variety of components. This is enhanced by the 4000 rev/min, 26 kW main spindle and 5.5 kW milling spindle, which drives rotating tools in any one of the 12 turret positions. In addition a 100 mm Y-axis delivers added versatility.
While the increased capacity and productivity was important to Portchester Engineering’s decision making process, the ease-of-use of the Mazatrol MATRIX control also played an important role. Having become familiar with Mazak’s conversational programming system and the functionality of the MATRIX control on the INTEGREX machine, Ben Creese and Morgan Prowse, who are responsible for programming at Portchester, had no hesitation in recommending the same control again.
Company director Ben Creese continues: 'The simplicity of the control system makes our life so much easier and when you add that to other functions, such as the ability to automatically pre-set multiple tools with a minimum of key strokes, it makes setting up the machine so much quicker.'
The challenge now is to manage this extra capacity and expand the business further. Samantha Morrison is already looking to bring in work from Europe, especially in the marine sector where Portchester Engineering has built its reputation. “While our current levels of business are good, we are looking to expand further and are in discussions with UK Trade & Investment to work on bringing in more business from Europe. As part of this we will be attending a number of events throughout Europe to promote our capabilities. We currently work for a number of overseas customers and there is no reason why this cannot be developed now that we have the additional capacity provided by the Mazak machines.
'We are also winning new business due to the increased capability of the Mazak machines'
'When we first looked at investing in this level of technology it was quite daunting, but it has been a tremendous boost for the business and as things stand we will be looking, in the not too distant future, to a possible relocation to allow further expansion and additional machining capacity,' she says.
The level of investment from a company the size of Portchester Engineering, with just five full-time employees, should be an inspiration to the multitude of similar businesses across the UK. Through its willingness and confidence in its abilities, it is driving its business forward and winning business from as far away as Australia.