With a well-established reputation for its precision machining services, B&B Precision Engineering based in Clayton West on the outskirts of Huddersfield, took a major step forward four years ago when it embarked on an investment plan that saw it expand its portfolio of services and increase its floorspace fivefold to 16,000 ft2.
This investment coincided with the appointment of Steven Haigh, a trained metallurgist, as managing director. His vision is to take what was a traditional precision machining and grinding company in to new areas of technology that would drive the business forward and key among these new technologies was thermal spray coating. “This is an area that opened up many doors for us and with very few companies in the UK offering this service we saw an opportunity and grabbed it. The ability to spray coatings of tungsten carbide, stellite, ceramics and stainless steel onto machined components allowed us entry in to sectors that we previously struggled to get business from, such as oil & gas and aerospace,” says Steven Haigh. Combining this knowledge of metallurgy with the existing experience in precision machining has created a situation where B&B Precision Engineering is able to provide a total manufacturing solution to its customers, who range from OEMs down.
Adding the thermal spraying capability has had a knock on effect on the machining side of the business, with B&B being asked to become a single source supplier for many customers due to the commercially sensitive nature of some of the work they are now undertaking. “Being asked to take full responsibility for production from start to finish has added pressure on our machining department, which we have addressed as part of the £4 million investment program that has seen new machining capacity installed as well as upgraded systems and processes. The most recent addition has been an XYZ CT52 turning centre, which is helping to meet increased demand for smaller turned parts,” says Steven Haigh.
The arrival of the XYZ CT52 is part of B&B Precision Engineering’s long-term plans to deliver high quality manufacturing, and keep more of its production in-house. Like its sister machine the XYZ MiniMill 560, which is the entry level machining centre in the XYZ range, the XYZ CT52 provides a compact, yet powerful and stable machining platform. In spite of its small footprint of just 1700 x 1450 mm it packs a powerful punch, with a 15 kW/20 hp, 5000 revs/min, spindle with a 52 mm bar capacity. It is capable of machining parts up to 200 mm diameter and 280 mm long. Backing up this machining capacity is the fact that it uses solid meehanite ribbed castings in its construction and, unlike many other machines in this sector retains the use of box slideways in both axes to ensure that the spindle and feedrate capabilities can be maximised.
With the bulk of B&B Precision Engineering’s work being low- to medium-volume production the XYZ CT52 also offers distinct advantages when programming, thanks to its use of the Siemens 828D ShopTurn Control that features the Siemens JobShop Concept of programming. JobShop takes the basic machining stages and then provides the operator with easy to understand prompts in order to complete the program. In the background the control then generates the CNC code required without the operator needing to understand G-code, etc.
“The addition of the XYZ CT52 went without a hitch and has added considerably to our turning capability and further enhanced our ability to fulfil our promise to deliver on quality, service, while providing a total manufacturing solution for our customers. The capability and capacity of this XYZ CT52 machine sits well with our application of good engineering skills and problem solving abilities to provide a total manufacturing solution, from design for manufacture through to the finished product,” says Steven Haigh.