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Meeting demands from customers in the oil and gas industry is big business for Nexus Precision Engineering. And it has got bigger, literally, with the introduction of a large capacity Hartford Sumo vertical machining centre from Ward CNC.

Coupled with integrated fourth axis and right-angle machining head, as well as 60-tool auto toolchanger, the machine's expansive 3 m bed capacity is for the first time enabling Nexus to machine in a single set-up long, up to 2.5 m, workpieces in the most cost-effective way.

According to Paul Rafferty, project manager at the Broxburn (Edinburgh) site, the substantial investment in the new heavyweight Hartford Sumo has been money well spent. "The whole concept of our operation has been to identify niche requirements then source machines to satisfy them," he says. "The deal with Ward CNC was no different - we saw an opportunity and we invested appropriately in a machine that was fit for purpose."

The company manufactures a wide range of components - including undertaking a certain amount of assembly - to satisfy a blue chip customer base in the UK and Singapore. This includes supplying companies such as Baker Hughes ProductionQuest, FMC and Schlumberger with a variety of workpieces for oil and gas work, and in particular downhole tooling.

The Hartford Sumo was purchased primarily to satisfy the need for the one-hit machining of downhole gauge carriers for Baker Hughes ProductionQuest. Made from 4140 or 420 stainless steel, these are received by Nexus as offset bored and honed ‘blanks' in a variety of sizes from 100 mm to 150 mm diameter and from 1,800 mm to 2.5 m long.

Once the journals are turned (within the dedicated cell built around the Hartford machining centre and a lathe ) each carrier enters the Hartford Sumo for a series of milling and drilling routines, including component-length slot production, to tolerances of ± 0.05 mm using bull nose cutters.

"The key to the success of the Hartford Sumo, apart from its extra long bed capacity, is the integrated fourth axis and right-angle head," says Paul Rafferty. "These features enable all prime machining operations to be performed in a single loading - there's no inter-operation handling to extend lead times and overall costs. The machine is the ideal solution."

He continues: "When the opportunity came along to machine these parts, we obviously looked at other machines but quickly decided on the Ward CNC solution because of the capability it offered and the fact that it was a tremendous value-for-money package."

Of open-fronted design, the construction of the Sumo 3100 AG vertical machining centre is, like its Hartford stablemates, based around a cast iron frame with hardened and ground box slideways. It has a table of 3.100 by 1,050 mm able to accommodate 4,000 kgs workpieces, and X, Y and Z travels are 3,050 mm by 1,016 mm by 1,070 mm. As standard, the 18.5/25 kW spindle produces speeds of 50 to 6,000 (optionally 8,000) revs/min (pulley-style - 40 to 4,000/6,000 revs/min geared). The BT 50 taper machine is supplied with a 20- (optional 32 or 40) tool automatic toolchanger.

Running the Sumo around the clock on a two-shift basis, product manager Mark McLellan pinpoints the Hartrol-Fanuc AI100/0iMC programming package as especially useful.

The Hartford Sumo is also allowing ISO 9001:2000 accredited Nexus to gain additional cycle time reductions by the use of new tooling and the ability to run existing tooling at faster speeds.