Monument Tools can trace its history back to 1880 when George Collier opened a tool merchant business in Brixton, London. The business gained its current name from the location of its first manufacturing business, opened in 1908, which was in the shadow of London’s Monument to the Great Fire of London. That business produced plumbing and roofing tools, products that remain at the heart of Monument Tools portfolio some five-generations later.

The recently installed XYZ CT65LTY at Monument Tools has been diverted from in-house toolroom work to machine urgent sub-contract components.

Now located in Hackbridge, Surrey, the business is led by Chairman John Collier and his son Jonathan who maintain that family-owned tradition. Like many businesses with that amount of history, Monument Tools has seen many ups and downs, but throughout it has maintained a reputation for innovation, developing what are now industry-standard tools for the plumbing and roofing industries. These include Shetack basin wrenches and automatic pipe cutters among many others. Through this innovation, business is growing at Monument Tools, with significant sales increases in recent years and exports representing 20 per cent of overall sales. Maintaining this innovation is crucial to this continued growth and, hand-in-hand with innovation comes investment within the business. “Our innovation is very much market driven product development, with industry experts or Monument Masters, as we call them, testing and feeding back on new products. Our aim is to only develop new products that have potential to generate volume sales, we cannot afford to speculate on our development ideas, hence the value we place on market research. On the back of this development process comes the need for investment in CNC technology, both in terms of production equipment and to support our research and development. As all our products are developed in-house our toolroom plays an important role in the success of that process. Here we need the ability to efficiently create small batch quantities and be able to change designs quickly, hence our willingness to invest in machine tools,” says John Collier, Chairman of Monument Tools.

The most recent investment has seen the arrival on-site in June of this year of an XYZ CT65LTY turning centre for use within the toolroom. This machine with its compact footprint combined with high-specification, such as the Siemens 828D ShopTurn conversational control, 70 mm of Y-axis travel and 400 mm swing, makes it a highly versatile turning centre. Other standard equipment includes a 200mm hydraulic chuck, 12-station VDI turret all with live tooling capability, Renishaw tool setting/probing, swarf conveyor and fully-programmable tailstock. “We needed a machine that could machine parts in a single hit to reduce development time and labour costs,” says John Collier. “The simplicity of the control on the XYZ and our use of offline programming means we can quickly produce batches of 10-off prototypes and confirm the design is suitable for our customers’ needs as well as ensuring it is production ready, when we may machine batches of over 1000-off. The one-hit capability of the XYZ CT65LTY generates much greater efficiency within the toolroom, the ability to make things ‘just-in-time also allows us to provide a quick response and improved service to customers.”

Jon Norton (left) overseas training of Taufeeque Ahmad on the Siemens 828D ShopTurn conversational control 

The arrival of the XYZ CT65LTY brought with it an additional bonus when another local company heard about it. “We only took delivery of the machine in June, but word soon spread and we were approached to see if we would be interested in taking on some sub-contract work,” says Jon Norton, Engineering Manager, Monument Tools. “This was for some quite complex turning, with tapers on external and internal surfaces, but we quickly got the program right and we are working through the batch now. This work has overtaken our own development work somewhat, but it is a result of the ease of use of the XYZ CT65LTY, and the Siemens control, that we were able to take on this intricate work so soon after taking delivery of the machine.”

The machine’s ease-of-use is also a factor in Jon Norton’s plans to use it as part of the training for the company’s six apprentices, who all experience every aspect of the business from injection moulding, CADCAM, basic milling and turning as well as operating the range of CNC machines in the factory during their training. “CNC holds no fears to the apprentices we have and, the XYZ machine will add to their fully-grounded knowledge of all of our processes. The planned short runs for our research and toolroom work means they will gain experience quickly.”

The ease of use of the machine and control made taking on some complex sub-contract work straightforward.

The XYZ CT65LTY at Monument Tools is just a continuation of the company’s ongoing investment in CNC mill-turn equipment that is ensuring it remains competitive through efficiency gains. “Without these investments in the latest machining technology we would have been out of business many years ago,” says John Collier. “As it is we have the right manufacturing technology that allows us to maintain a proud tradition of manufacturing here in the UK, taking on worldwide competitors both in terms of cost and quality.”