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“We needed a heavy-duty machine that was robust and high quality, which would reliably and consistently machine components day in, day out for a number of years. The Hartford PBM-115AG precision horizontal boring and milling machining centre from T W Ward CNC Machinery Ltd (Ward CNC) fitted the bill perfectly.”

Combined with the need for the appropriate levels of service and support from a supplier with a vast amount of experience with this type of machinery as part of an overall value-for-money package, this was the criteria that David Greenan, Operations Director at Newburgh Engineering, used to establish the new machining capacity required when the Rotherham-based sub-contractor established a new manufacturing cell to machine large (1.7 metres long) cast iron workpieces.

It's the same criteria that Newburgh has always applied for every dedicated cell that is created for each new long-term contract (Newburgh ideally targets at least three-/five-year deals). This approach effectively sees Newburgh act as an extension to the OEM's manufacturing operations and while the arrangement avoids any potential conflicts over priorities between a customer's delivery schedules, these manufacturing alliances where openness is the keyword also enable Newburgh to offer its strategic ‘partners' reduced levels of work-in-progress, shorter lead times and therefore improved cash flow.

It's a policy that has made the long-established (since 1939) family-owned precision engineering operation a premier player in the provision of large capacity sub-contract machined components, supplying customers in industries such as aerospace, oil and gas, rail, defence, power generation and nuclear. The latter accounts for around 20 per cent of business and also embraces Newburgh's membership of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

Newburgh has been involved in the nuclear industry since the 1950s and it currently supplies fuel stringers (to BNFL/Westinghouse) as well as other critical components.

The cast iron workpieces required for the new contract are currently produced at the rate of 60/week and Newburgh initially set-up a cell based on two pre-owned and retrofitted/reconditioned Giddings & Lewis horizontal borers. This process of using re-engineered machines has traditionally served the company well but, in this case, frequent machine downtime/breakdowns "were causing a certain level of frustration", according to David Greenan.

He continues: "We decided to replace these units with new machines and we went to the market to find the best solution for performing the straightforward face milling and hole boring operations required on multi-faces of the components. It was imperative that the new machine would be able to handle this workload reliably and, crucially for us, that we would also be totally confident that the machine would actually do what it is supposed to do!

The robustness of the Hartford five-axis (W+B) PBM-115AG is based on construction principles that use a single heavy-duty cast iron bed and a single ribbed alloy frame casting for the spindle head that allows the Z axis drive and spindle head to be mounted on the same centre line.

The PBM-115AG with 40-station ATC has a table/pallet working area of 1.6 metres by 1.4 metres with travel in X, Y and Z axes of 2 metres, 1.6 metres and 1.5 metres, respectively, plus a W axis (spindle) travel of 500 mm. Rapid travel rate is 10 metres/min in the three main axes. The main spindle motor of 26 kW produces 3,000 revs/min.

David Greenan knew exactly what he was buying: "I've bought many machines in the past for both our Rotherham and Bradwell sites, including a number of new and re-engineered machines from Ward CNC." His experience is based on a lifetime's career with Newburgh, starting as an apprentice in 1974 at the company' Bradwell site in Derbyshire.