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Finding a niche is often the way to succeeding in business and that is exactly what Bradford-based Bronte Precision Engineering has done. The business is split into five disciplines: precision machining; gear manufacture; transmission systems and component parts; replacement parts for vintage and classic vehicles; and replacement parts for specialist machinery. Much of its business, however, revolves around gear manufacture, which is the forte of managing director Steve Leach, who worked for many years at one of the region’s foremost gear manufacturers.

“By combining precision machining with gear cutting we are able to provide a highly efficient manufacturing service to a range of customers that include not only other businesses, such as manufacturers of pumps, hydraulic motors and other specialist OEMs, but also motorsport enthusiasts looking for replacement parts for vehicles that long since went out of production. Our ability to reverse engineer and manufacture parts to original, and often improved specification, has won us lots of work over the years,” says Steve Leach.

While the value for money and performance offered by the XYZ machines was an influence on our decision to move away from our existing machine supplier, the decision was sealed by the use of the Siemens control. The simplicity and ease of use of this control has been a revelation

Much of this work is low- to medium-volume, but the scale of parts machined by Bronte covers the full range from small through to very large. Because of the variety of parts and scale of those parts Bronte Precision Engineering has an extensive machine shop, able to cover most eventualities. However, Steve Leach recognised that there were still areas were capability could be improved namely in the mid-range for turning and milling. “We are constantly investing to upgrade our capacity and having spotted this requirement for turning and milling capacity we did some research and settled on XYZ Machine Tools for both machines. For the lathe we bought an XYZ TC400 turning centre and the milling was covered by its XYZ 1020 VMC. While the value for money and performance offered by the XYZ machines was an influence on our decision to move away from our existing machine supplier, the decision was sealed by the use of the Siemens control. The simplicity and ease of use of this control has been a revelation,” says Steve Leach.

Both XYZ machines use the same Siemens 828D control, which makes use of conversational prompts to ease the operator through the programming of parts, making the whole process easy, even for more complex components. As it was Bronte Precision Engineering’s first time with XYZ and the Siemens control they took advantage of the free training on offer at XYZ’s Blackburn showroom. The two machines from XYZ sit in the middle of its turning centre and vertical machining centre ranges and complement Bronte Precision Engineering’s existing machine capacity. The XYZ 1020 VMC has a machining envelope of 1020 mm by 520 mm by 575 mm (xyz) with 20m/min feedrates in all axes. In addition it features a powerful 15 kW/20 hp, 8000 revs/min BT40 spindle supported by a 24 position toolchanger. The XYZ TC 400 provides powerful turning capacity based around a 33 kW/45 hp, 3300 revs/min spindle and 12 tool station turret. Maximum turned diameter is 400 mm and maximum turned length is 600 mm.

Both machines benefit from the same solid meehanite ribbed casting construction and their metal cutting performance is further enhanced by the use of precision ground box slideways on all axes. These provide much greater stability under heavy cutting loads than lower cost linear guideways. “Because of the range of work that we do and the relatively low volumes and our philosophy of providing solutions, not just parts, we need machines that can adapt to our demands. With the XYZ machines we have that, they have the right combination of power and performance and when combined with the Siemens control and the applications support that we have received from XYZ so far, they are proving to be a good investment,” says Steve Leach.

(Above) The XYZ TC 400 lathe has a 45 hp spindle capable of heavy metal removal.

(Above) The XYZ 1020 VMC fills a gap in Bronte Precision Engineering’s machining capacity.

(Above) A selection of parts produced by Bronte Precision Engineering.

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