Meddings Group can trace its roots back to the late 1930’s when the current Chairman’s grandfather started the business and, it was in 1941 that the first Meddings Pillar drill was developed, a product, although greatly updated, remains central to the Group’s activities, with customers around the world. With drill production growing the decision was taken to relocate to its current location, which was a greenfield site in Ivybridge, Devon. A move that would give room for expansion and development of its own products, which also saw the acquisition of swimming pool heating manufacturer Thermalec, along with extensive sub-contract machining and fabrication capabilities as well as an industrial supplies division.

Mark Dibbens (left) with Engineering Manager Colin Richards at the new XYZ UMC-5X and the machine’s versatile trunnion table

“For the past three years, and the past 12 months in particular, the focus of the Meddings Group has been one of looking outwards, to develop its existing markets, not only for its drills and heaters, but also sub-contract work, supplying customers across many industries including marine, telecoms, electronics and oil & gas, automotive, and with AS9100 approval underway.” says Managing Director Mark Dibbens. “We have re-shored all manufacturing of the Meddings Drills and Meddings Thermalec products. Product development will see new drill designs being launched at the MACH 2022 exhibition, as well as expansion of the Meddings Thermalec range which will help open up new markets.” To help meet increased machining requirements Meddings Group has undertaken a major investment program, spending over £1,4 million in the past 12 months on capital equipment and facilities to enhance its machining and fabrication capabilities, the latest of which is an XYZ UMC-5X five-axis machining centre. Meddings Group’s long history is testament to its desire to deliver the highest quality of products and components and its investment in the latest machining technology from XYZ Machine Tools will help to continue that.

“We recognise that market opportunities for our machining activities will in future be driven by the ability to have greater flexibility and efficiency in machining parts and five-axis will be key to that. The potential for five-axis machining is huge, with the ability to turn round jobs faster, reduce set-ups, and improve lead times on components that are becoming ever more complex and in higher volumes,” says Mark Dibbens. Initially the focus of the XYZ UMC-5X will be on Meddings own products with the new developments of the Meddings drills and Meddings Thermalec heaters benefitting from the capability of simultaneous five-axis machining, such as the new design of pool heater vessel, which at over 100 kg in weight reducing set-ups it’s a major advantage. Another product machined on the XYZ UMC-5X has also seen dramatic reductions in cycle times with one-hit machining cutting the original cycle time of 15 hours down to 7.5 hours.

Three XYZ turning centres allow for complex and volume parts to be machined easily.

“Over the past 18 months we have faced challenges but have remained busy and, we have taken on new employees, including apprentices. That period also gave us the opportunity to carry out strategic reviews of the business and prepare for what we see as an exciting year ahead for the Group. Our ongoing investment program will allow us to continue our product development plan alongside gaining the versatility and flexibility in our machining capacity to meet the needs of not just our own internal production, but also meet the needs of our external sub-contract customers.”

The choice of XYZ Machine Tools for this move to five-axis machining was quite a straightforward one for Mark Dibbens and his engineering team, as they have a longstanding relationship with XYZ. “The relationship we have with XYZ Machine Tools just works for us, the machines are high quality and competitively priced, the service from initial inquiry through to delivery and ongoing service is brilliant and with their factory just a few miles up the road, we know we can call in at any time to see what’s new or to ask advice. We have often thought of putting an XYZ sign outside and becoming a showroom for them as over the years we have built up quite a selection of XYZ machines,” says Mark. These machines include a heavy-duty XYZ 2010 vertical machining centre, a high speed XYZ 1060 HS with fourth axis capability, XYZ CT 65 LTY and TC 320 LTY Y-axis turning centres and the most recent addition to its turning capacity the new CT 65 HD with barfeed.