Investing in the future of its business in terms of skills and capacity as well as expanding organically and through acquisition is at the forefront of BG Engineering’s plans. This process has been accelerated following an investment in a strategic stake in the business by Cooper Brown Enterprises Limited in 2017. Acquisitions include the recent purchase of Sheffield-based Pentag Gears and Oilfield Equipment, which has relocated to BG Engineering’s Chesterfield facility, while organic growth will focus on diversifying from existing markets of energy, process control, rail, automotive, defence, and specifically into the aerospace sector. Here, BG Engineering is well on the journey to AS9100 accreditation, with a planned audit date of September 2018 to add to its existing Lloyds ISO 9001:2015 certification. To deliver on these plans the company is actively recruiting apprentices and has just invested £75,000 with XYZ Machine Tools to create a machining cell for use by apprentices to hone their machining skills.

“Training for the future of BG Engineering is very important to us, we firmly believe in growing and nurturing our own talent through apprenticeships. We currently have four apprentices at different stages of training, Sam H who is in his final year and is working in a production management role, James who is moving on to start his HNC in September, Sam S who has just completing his HNC and is working towards a production engineering role and Dylan who is focused on machining, and the XYZ cell was purchased with him and those that follow in mind. We have also recruited three more apprentices to start in September by which time apprentices will make up 20% of our team. These are exciting times around Chesterfield and Sheffield with developments such as AMRC, Boeing and McLaren all happening, this brings with it lots of investment in the greater manufacturing community, and we want to play our part. In addition to our own apprentices, we are also involved with Work-Wise.co.uk and Getuptospeed.org.uk, two charities that are actively involved in inspiring young people to choose a career in engineering and manufacturing,” says Chris Brown, Director, Cooper Brown Enterprises.

The apprentice machine cell at BG Engineering comprises an XYZ SMX 5000 ProtoTRAK Bed Mill, with axis travels of 1524 mm x 596 mm x 584 mm in X, Y and Z, table capacity of 850 kg, along with a 5.75 Kw (7.5HP) spindle with programable speed range of between 40-5000 revs/min. Alongside the SMX 5000 sits an XYZ SLX 355 ProTURN lathe, this highly versatile lathe is equipped with a 5.75 Kw (7.5hp) 4000 revs/min spindle, can swing parts up to 360 mm over the bed and turn up to 900 mm in length. Both machines are controlled by XYZ’s ProtoTRAK control system whose simple to program capability makes apprentice training and the machining of one-off and small batch parts straightforward.

BG Engineering apprentice Dylan with the XYZ SMX 5000

“The XYZ machines are unlike anything else we have on the shopfloor, they provide the perfect introduction to CNC machining and, Dylan is making full use of the ProtoTRAK control’s features, such as TRAKing, as well as learning manual machining skills, gaining the experience of the ‘feel’ you only get by winding handles to produce parts, thanks to the XYZ machine’s ability to operate under full CNC or in manual mode. The XYZ machines’ capability, quality and cost-effectiveness make them perfect for what we want,” says Chris Brown. “Taking on apprentices is quite a commitment, but we have already benefitted by producing good engineers of our own and the philosophy of the business is to encourage employees to develop ownership of, and responsibility for, projects and be open to input from everyone in the business. Our aim is to embark on this journey and become a better business by including everyone in that journey and inspiring job satisfaction.”

Apprentices at BG Engineering are trained under the guidance of the company’s senior engineers and technical engineers, as well as machining they will experience all aspects of the business, they are encouraged to take their academic training as far as they can whether this be Level 3 BTEC National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, HNC or beyond. Their time on the XYZ machines will give them experience of the production environment, as they are entrusted with producing one-offs, small batch quantities and, with the production of jigs and fixtures for the bigger machining centres BG has, for all of which the XYZ machines are ideally suited.

“Education has always been a strong sector for XYZ Machine Tools in terms of colleges and universities, it is now encouraging that progressive businesses such as BG Engineering are investing in apprentice training and giving these young people the opportunity to learn skills that will see them progress throughout their careers. Our ProtoTRAK controlled machines provide them with the best of CNC and manual machine operation,” says Nigel Atherton, Managing Director, XYZ Machine Tools.