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voestalpine High Performance Metals UK Ltd has built a reputation for supplying specialty metals to the most demanding sectors including, Oil & Gas, Aerospace, Power Generation, Automotive and Motorsport industries. Based in Oldbury, West Midlands, the UK Sales Division is focused on service; continued investment in their warehouse facility and robust value added services ensures they are well placed for the future. This year the Value Added Services department was enhanced with the acquisition of three XYZ machine tools to improve throughput and grow the overall business.

 

“Whilst our core activity here at Oldbury is the sale and distribution of high performance metals as either cut steel, billets or blocks, we have had a limited machining capacity onsite for many years. The decision to expand our machining facility was taken just over 12 months ago, enabling us to increase the onsite services we provide to our customers,” says Stuart Brown, Value Added Services Manager, voestalpine High Performance Metals UK. “Our ambition is to achieve a 50-50 split between material supply and the value added services we offer, our investment in machining capacity is part of that strategy. The more we can do for customers in terms of pre-machining of material adds significant value to the products we are selling, whether that is simply blocking material to a specific size, or more intricate machining work.”

Stuart Brown (right) discussing the XYZ 2010 HD VMC with Programmer/Setter/Operator Alan Mapp

The 3000 kg table capacity of the XYZ 2010 VMC is ideal for the large blocks being machined at voestalpine High Performance Metals

The first XYZ machine to arrive on-site was an XYZ 2010 vertical machining centre, part of XYZ Machine Tools’ ‘Super Heavyweight’ range of machines. With a table load capacity of 3000 kg and a table size of 2200 by 1000 mm, the XYZ 2010 is ideal for processing large blocks of material for customers in the toolmaking and medical sectors. “We can load a variety of parts onto the machine table with multiple blocks accommodated at the same time, which greatly improves efficiency,” says Stuart Brown. “I knew of the value/performance of XYZ machines from previous companies that I’ve worked at, but unaware of their larger capacity machines. Seeing the carcass of the XYZ 2010 VMC at XYZ’s factory in Devon gave me the reassurance that I was buying the right machine for the job.” The combination of a powerful 8000 revs/min, 23 kW (42 kW available 2.5 minutes in every 10 minutes) spindle, six box slideways on the Y-axis and solid 20,000 kg Meehanite cast construction, enables high metal removal rates.

 

With the initial large capacity milling taken care of, attention turned to smaller components and the arrival of an XYZ CT 65 (Compact Turn) turning centre. This is being used for a variety of work from machining tensile test pieces for voestalpine’s own use, to processing customer material prior to dispatch. As the name suggests, the XYZ CT 65 has an extremely small footprint, yet at the same time provides versatile machining capability thanks to standard features such as a 200 mm diameter hydraulic chuck, 12-station 30-VDI turret, Renishaw tool setting arm, swarf conveyor and tailstock. Machining capacities are a maximum swing of 400 mm, maximum turned diameter of 220 mm and maximum turned length 260 mm with a 65 mm spindle bore, making it ideal in sub-contract situations where work can change from day-to-day.

The XYZ CT 65 offers versatility in small footprint for voestalpine High Performance Metals’ turning requirements

Programmer/Setter/Operator Lauren Phillips checks out the surface finish generated on the XYZ 1100 HD VMC

The next investment within the Value Added Services department continued to focus on milling with the addition of more machining centre capacity in the form of an XYZ 1100 HD vertical machining centre. The XYZ 1100 HD sits within the newly created XYZ Machine Tools Heavy-Duty range, with the machine at voestalpine being one of the first in the country. “We were again attracted by the table size of this machine along with its solid construction. Prior to having the XYZ machining centres most of the blocking out work was done on some old mills and special purpose machinery, these were slow and in-flexible. We are finding that with the XYZ machines we can improve metal removal rates and surface finish and, while we will initially be using the XYZ VMCs for blocking out work, their capacity and capability opens up many more opportunities for us to expand our value added services.”     

 

One key benefit of investing in the XYZ Machine Tools range is the consistency of the control system. Each of the three machines currently installed at voestalpine High Performance Metals UK feature the Siemens 828D with either ShopMill or ShopTurn conversational software fitted as standard. “The machines we had prior to these were either manual or had very basic CNC functionality so the step up to the Siemens controls was an easy move to make due to the ease of programming,” says Stuart Brown. “Because of the nature of the work we do everything is programmed at the machine and, all our programmer/setter/operators picked it up very quickly, with only two days training required at XYZ. In fact, while they were away for the training we had an urgent job come in and I was able to program the XYZ CT 65 without any training.”

The Siemens 828D ShopMill and ShopTurn controls on the three machines installed at voestalpine High Performance Metals makes programming straightforward at the machine

The work that Stuart Brown has undertaken at the Oldbury Value Added Services department is being watched with interest across the Group, as he shares his experience with colleagues in other group companies across Europe. “We have seen improved lead times, quality, and efficiency with the introduction of the CNC capability from XYZ, as we look to expand our value added services further we know that the XYZ machines are the right machines to take the group on that journey.”