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VW specialist gets the XYZ bug
VW specialist gets the XYZ bug

VW specialist gets the XYZ bug

Added to MTDCNC by XYZ Machine Tools on 09 December 2014

Tinkering with old VW’s was once the preserve of keen enthusiasts and lovers of the marque, but with pre-1967 Volkswagen camper vans selling from £20,000 upwards as a project, this business has become more professional. Project 01, an engineering company in Botley, Hampshire, was founded by Charles Jukes and is now leading the way with innovative component manufacture that brings the running gear of these old vehicles up to 21st century standards.

As a VW enthusiast and with a background in design and manual machining, rather than making things in any volume, Charles Jukes admits to setting up the business with an equipment capacity list that stretched to just a welding set and an angle grinder. Any parts that he needed had to be put out to subcontract, a situation that continued for some time; that was until the business changed. 'Our initial business was modification of camper vans and beetles, but we recognised that the key market was in aftermarket parts, particularly suspension bits as everyone wants their van lowering,' says Charles Jukes.

This move to more aftermarket supply meant an increase in the number of parts required, which in turn brought with it logistics and quality issues. 'As the volumes grew the cost and quality of parts we were needed made me think that bringing this work in-house was a viable option, so we purchased a manual lathe and an XYZ ProtoTRAK turret mill, both second hand. At first I was a little unsure, as my skills were mainly on manual machines and when you hear people talk about CNC they make it sound complicated, but ProtoTRAK is so easy to use. The step up was a real eye-opener for me and it opened up another world of possibilities for machining and quality. Not only that, the productivity that we saw from this machine was a revelation and the improved efficiency made it seem like we had an extra employee.'

This revelation led to the arrival of Project01’s latest machine, an XYZ ProTURN SLX 425 lathe. This machine is equipped with the latest generation ProtoTRAK control and as Charles Jukes confirms, the transition from the earlier model to this was straightforward following a one-day training course at XYZ Machine Tools’ Burlescombe showroom. 'As we develop the business we have a greater requirement for turned parts, so to improve productivity in this area was an obvious step. For a relatively small company any machine purchase is a major decision and, in this case, involved using the deposit we had saved for our house, but we haven’t looked back since it arrived and have already committed the second house deposit we had saved to purchase an XYZ 710 VMC to further improve machining performance.'

The addition of the ProTurn SLX 425 has had several benefits for Project01, it can machine much more complex components, and it comes with the back-up of the XYZ applications department if any programs become challenging. The machine is also dramatically reducing lead times, with one example being the bearing housings for front suspension units. A typical batch would have taken five days to fully machine prior to the XYZ ProTURN SLX 425 arriving. Now, that same batch takes just one day to complete and the accuracy, repeatability and surface finish are far superior to what was being produced before. 'By being able to compress time like this allows me to get on with other things, which as a small, owner operated business, is a huge bonus. And, for the same reasons, the knowledge that I have the backing of XYZ’s professional and supportive applications team available if I need them is highly reassuring.'

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