What started as a one-man business in 1931, with founder Freddy Brown using his sheet metal skills to repair damaged cars, Bisley has developed into one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of premium steel storage for offices and workshops.
Bisley’s manufacturing is now concentrated at the company’s factory in Newport, Wales with 60,000 m2 of floorspace over the 17 acre site, where over £80 million of investment in manufacturing technology; including heavy-presses, punch presses, press brakes, lasers, roll forming and paint systems have helped it keep pace with demand. Production now stands at over 20,000 pieces of furniture produced every week in South Wales. All of this manufacturing is undertaken using Lean principles, with Kanban being the order of the day. Therefore, keeping production flowing efficiently is vital and, as such, Bisley has always operated its own toolrooom to produce new press tools.
With the toolroom’s importance to continuous production, the decision was taken towards the end of 2016 to make significant investment to replace some old, and increasingly unreliable machinery. “With the machines we had, we were always chasing accuracy and, in an environment such as this that is time consuming,” says Bisley’s John Hancock. “As a result, we decided to upgrade our existing milling and grinding sections and also add in some EDM capacity.” Around 50 percent of Bisley’s budget for the upgrade was allocated to bringing in additional milling, turning and grinding capacity, all supplied by XYZ Machine Tools.
The new machines are an XYZ SMX 3500 ProtoTRAK bed mill, two XYZ EMX turret mills, an SLX 355 ProTURN lathe, two XYZ1632 and one XYZ1224 surface grinders all with incremental down feed. These are in addition to an existing XYZ SMX 5000 bed mill that was brought across from its former toolroom at its Surrey location.
“Our previous experience with the XYZ SMX 5000 was instrumental in our choice to select XYZ for mills and lathe. The ProtoTRAK control has all the functionality that we need, it is reliable and provides value for money. With the arrival of the SMX mills, we are seeing improved efficiency due to the versatility of the machines and we are able to machine things that would have been either very difficult, if not impossible before. Features such as the TRAKing, which allows us to manually work through a program prior to going full CNC is very useful and the overall functionality and ease of use of the control makes the whole process straightforward,” says John Hancock.
The Bisley Toolroom is home to nine toolmakers, including three apprentices and only two of them had prior programming experience with the XYZ ProtoTRAK control. After the short training session at XYZ’s Burlescombe headquarters, all of the toolmakers are now happy to program and operate the SMX and SLX machines. Additionally, more advanced training will be carried out on-site at Bisley as and when required. Richard Warwick, Bisley’s toolroom Section Leader adds: “Now that we have all been on the training course, everyone is happy to get on the machines. The support we had and the straightforward nature of the control system makes it easy to use, especially as we are machining mainly one-off parts to tight tolerances on rapid turnaround.”
The XYZ range of machines also helped with Bisley’s requirements for grinding, as there was no comparison between size and cost of our machines to the existing machines they were using. Most of the work undertaken by Bisley on its grinders is mainly flat surfaces, with some occasional profiling required. Richard Warwick went on to say “In terms of value for money, we bought the two largest XYZ grinders for the price we would have paid to replace just one of existing machines. Adding the third, smaller machine then became a simple decision. Overall, we are extremely happy with the service and equipment from XYZ. Throughout the process we were given good advice and they listened to what we wanted, not what they wanted to sell. The end result is that we have the capacity that we need to keep the production side of the business running smoothly.”