(Above) The new machines were purchased after the successful introduction of an XYZ SMX SLV and a ProTURN SLX 355 lathe in the toolroom at Aerotech.
As a leading subcontractor to the aerospace, defence and nuclear industries, Poole-based Aerotech Precision Manufacturing recognises that developing and maintaining skills is the only way in which to secure its future. Therefore, apprentice training is a priority and recent investments support the company’s determination to stay ahead of the competition.
Business is good for Aerotech and this success has been built on the knowledge and skills available to it. “We are proud to say that much of our business, in excess of 80 per cent, comes from repeat customers. Much of this is down to how we have structured the business to provide an unusually comprehensive in-house CNC milling and turning service that can accommodate requirements from the very small to the very large. Also, by working with long-established strategic partners in areas such as fabrication, sheet metal work and finishing we are able to undertake and manage large packages of work. The theory is to maximise the scope we can offer with a single point of contact for the customer, minimising their transactions and associated management commitments. This is proving to be of particular interest to those companies, and there are many, who are looking to rationalise or in some cases reduce the size of their supply chains. Our business has grown in such a way that we are strong commercially and financially which not only provides peace of mind to our customers and but also allows us the ability and security to invest when required”, says Aaron Houston, Aerotech’s Business Development Manager.
Anyone can learn to programme using CNC controls but the real skill is understanding what you’re asking the CNC machine to do is achievable. The ProtoTRAK equipped mills and lathes that we have help us to provide that experience and provide a bridge between the training environment and the shopfloor
In order to ensure continuity of skills Aerotech instigated an apprentice training programme, taking on three apprentices every year who undergo a mixture of on and off the job training. One of the challenges face by Aerotech was the blending of skills learnt by apprentices at college and in the company’s training environment to the ‘real-life’ world on the shop floor, so it invested in a number of machines to fill that need. Already a user of the XYZ ProtoTRAK system the choice of three new milling machines, an XYZ SMX 2000 and two XYZ SMX SLV turret mills was an obvious choice. “The user-friendly nature of the ProtoTRAK control system was a key factor in our decision to purchase more XYZ machines, as well as the excellent customer support that we experienced on our previous XYZ machines. For Aerotech it is important that our apprentices understand the feel of different types of metal cutting. Anyone can learn to programme using CNC controls but the real skill is understanding what you’re asking the CNC machine to do is achievable. The ProtoTRAK equipped mills and lathes that we have help us to provide that experience and provide a bridge between the training environment and the shopfloor,” says Roger Foley, Director, Aerotech Precision Manufacturing.
The XYZ SMX turret mill range covers many bases, with the smallest machine in the range, the XYZ EMX machine with a 2.25 kw (3 HP) variable speed spindle and axis travels of 660 mm, 305 mm and 406 mm in x, y and z. The larger XYZ SMX 2000 has the same spindle as the EMX, but features a larger working envelope with a table measuring 1270 mm by 254 mm. With the SMX SLV, XYZ has created one of the largest turret mills available with an X axis travel of 1000 mm. This is backed up by a more powerful variable speed 3.75 kw (5hp) spindle with a speed range of 70 – 3600 revs/min. The SMX SLV also features hardened box slideways making it capable of heavy-duty work. The SMX ProtoTRAK control fitted to XYZ’s machines at Aerotech can provide 2 or 3 axis control and features conversational cycles for a multitude of pocket, profile and thread milling, as well as drilling and tapping of single holes and bolt hole patterns. The AGE profiling software also removes the need for lengthy calculations by the operator as ProtoTRAK comes with a ‘Guess’ key, where if a dimension is missing the user simply approximates its position and the control works out the rest. The control is also capable of 3D profiling with an on-board DNC capability and capacity to handle virtually unlimited program sizes.
when we buy any machine tool, we feel it is always better to get the latest information and latest training from the supplier as in doing this we know we are fully up-to-date with any new features that may have been developed
Even though Aerotech was already an experienced user of the ProtoTRAK control it took full advantage of the free training provided by XYZ to anyone purchasing one of its machines, with three apprentices visiting XYZ’s Burlescombe headquarters to complete their off-site training on the machines and control system. “I am confident that our own skills base was sufficient to pass on the knowledge that they need to use the ProtoTRAK control and we have the in-house ability to teach them to utilise it and the machine to a high level. However, when we buy any machine tool, we feel it is always better to get the latest information and latest training from the supplier as in doing this we know we are fully up-to-date with any new features that may have been developed,” says Roger Foley.
(Above) Aerotech apprentice Karl Ayley programming the XYZ SMX 2000.
(Above) The three new XYZ SMX machines recently installed at Aerotech.
(Above) ProTURN SLX 355 lathe in the toolroom at Aerotech.