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Having worked for a variety of manufacturing companies as what he describes as ‘a suit’ with basic engineering knowledge, Phil Boffin was approached by an existing customer of one of these businesses and asked to set up his own engineering company. The temptation couldn’t be resisted and BMS Engineering was formed in 2007. From that step into the ‘unknown’ BMS has developed into a leading designer and manufacturer of roll cages for use in motorsport.

“Setting up the business with limited engineering skills was a little daunting, especially as it required a £100,000 investment to meet the requirements of this particular customer. But when that customer is the works team behind the Subaru World Rally and Aston Martin Endurance cars, I was reasonably confident in their commitment,” says Phil Boffin. From the outset Phil had only one product in mind, that was bespoke roll cages for motorsport customers, so he invested in tube bending equipment, followed by laser cutting and press brake capacity to enable the low volume tubular fabrications to be efficiently produced. Machining had never been part of his business plan, and any work that required milling or turning was simply put out to subcontract.

However, once we had seen some quotes for this work, the seeds of an investment idea started to germinate and we started to look at the possibility of buying a CNC mill to do the work ourselves.

This situation continued until the early part of 2016 when BMS Engineering was contacted by a customer to help with a project manufacturing turnstiles, in particular turnstiles for use in industrial applications, such as site access. While the tubular parts were no problem the contract would be for the complete parts kit, including machined components. “Our initial reaction was, as we had always done, to put these parts out to sub-contract. However, once we had seen some quotes for this work, the seeds of an investment idea started to germinate and we started to look at the possibility of buying a CNC mill to do the work ourselves.”

Once again the main issue was the lack of machining knowledge at BMS, but a visit to XYZ Machine Tools quickly overcame any concerns and resulted in the purchase of an XYZ SMX 2500 Bed Mill, fitted with the ProtoTRAK control and supplied with the optional offline programming and DXF modules. “The DXF module is a great help to non-machinists like us as we can simply import a DXF file and the software does the rest, all we have to do is make sure the right tool is in the spindle. To me it makes perfect sense to use tools such as this, added to that is the simplicity of programming the ProtoTRAK control if there isn’t a DXF file available,” says Phil Boffin.

What was refreshing from XYZ was their detailed support for a customer investing in its first metalcutting machine. They gave us the time and support we needed, from the very first contact through to the machine being delivered and the training at their Nuneaton showroom.

The combination of capability, price and support from XYZ all helped to convince BMS that the SMX 2500 was the way to go. The turnstile project only has two machined parts that will go on the mill, and quantities of five off per week. In most cases justifying a new machine purchase on those numbers would not work and a used machine may have been a more logical step. “We have always worked on the premise of buying new equipment, whether that be a tube bender, welding kit or the laser we have. I didn’t see any reason to move away from that with the mill. With new you are reassured that you will get a good standard of equipment and also receive the OEM support, which in the case of XYZ has been faultless.” Working with XYZ’s area sales manager Martyn Jones, BMS reviewed the work it had to do and payback on the machine was calculated at three years, based on the money that would be saved on these two initial components making it a viable proposition.

“What was refreshing from XYZ was their detailed support for a customer investing in its first metalcutting machine. They gave us the time and support we needed, from the very first contact through to the machine being delivered and the training at their Nuneaton showroom. The ProtoTRAK control is so straightforward, for a non-machinist like me, even my son Chris has been experimenting machining parts that ideally should be turned on it. We don’t have any ambition to become a specialist sub-contract machining facility, but the SMX 2500 will complement our existing tube roll cage work, eliminating the need to go out to sub-contract.”

The XYZ SMX 2500 is the smallest of the ProtoTRAK bed mill range available from XYZ machine tools, yet it still has a table measuring 1245 x 228 mm that can hold components weighing up to 600kg. Axis travels are 780 x 390 x 560 mm (xyz) and it is equipped with a 3 HP variable speed R8 (ISO 30 optional) spindle with a speed range of 40 – 3600 revs/min. Its solid cast construction with hardened and ground bedways, make it a substantial machining platform and with either two or three axis control provided by the ProtoTRAK control system it is also a highly versatile machine.

(Above) Phil Boffin with no machining experience is happy programming the ProtoTRAK control.

(Above) Phil’s son Chris is experimenting with the ProtoTRAK’s capabilities producing jobs that would normally be turned on the SMX 2500 bed mill.

(Above) Examples of the car roll cages produced by BMS.

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