Task Engineering has built a reputation for machining complex components for a range of industries, with batch sizes ranging from one-off to a thousand-off. However, core to its business is the range of components manufactured for group company Crane Electronics, a specialist in delivering solutions for torque management and control problems, including a range of torque wrenches.

Founded in 1997 Task Engineering became part of the Crane Group in December 2009, a situation that was enhanced by the GroupÕs willingness to invest in new machine tools and equipment. These machines would initially be used to machine components for Crane Electronics’ range of high specification torque wrenches, such as the IQWrench Opta range, which accounts for around 50 per cent of Task Engineering’s capacity. This new machine capability also enabled the Hinckley-based company to expand the work it did for other customers.

Among this sub-contract work is a series of security devices for point of sale displays in mobile phone shops. These consist of a number of interlocking machined components that clamp the mobile phone or tablet PC allowing them to be displayed in a way that potential customers can see every aspect of the product, but preventing them from being removed without the presence of a sales assistant. ÒThis is a growing market for us where we are acting as the sub-contract manufacturer for suppliers of these products into high street stores. With our ability to meet their quality and delivery demands, for the manufacture of these products we are confident that demand will continue to increase.

The investment in machine tools and people will enhance the service that we can provide to Crane Electronics and our other customers,” says Peter Gemmell, Director, Task Engineering. “We have recently recruited a ‘mature’ apprentice who at 23 years old is enthusiastic about the work we are doing and hopefully will go on to gain his HNC and add to the skills we already have.”

Part of the investment in machine tools includes the addition of an XYZ Mini Mill 560 vertical machining centre, which complements three existing XYZ ProtoTRAK controlled turret mills, which are operated as a machining cell by Task Engineering, and a ProTURN 410 ProtoTRAK controlled lathe. “The XYZ turret mills and lathes we have had for several years and they have proved to be excellent workhorses producing good quality work day in day out. So when we wanted to add to our machining centre capability, we had no hesitation in looking at and choosing the XYZ Mini Mill 560.”

Another aspect in choosing the XYZ machine is the support that Task Engineering has received over the years from XYZ Machine Tools service and applications department. “When we bought the XYZ Mini Mill 560, we had the training in-house to familiarise ourselves with the Siemens 828D ShopMill Control and the JobShop Concept that it uses. Over the years of operating the ProtoTRAK machines we had got to know XYZ’s Application Engineer Julian Stacey as he would ‘pop in’ every now and then to make sure everything was OK and update us with new ideas when he could. So to have him come in, as someone we already knew, to provide the training on this machine was an advantage.”

The XYZ Mini Mill 560 at Task Engineering is being used on a variety of jobs that make full use of its capabilities, including the 15 HP/8000 revs/min spindle, which is incorporated into a machine weighing 3100 kg, making it a very robust and capable machine for its size. This capability is enhanced by the machine’s axis travels of 560 x 400 x 500 mm (X, Y, Z), a 12 position toolchanger and feedrates of up to 20 m/min. The result is a machine that maximises the profit per square foot that is vital to many small to medium sized sub-contract engineering companies, such as Task Engineering.

Adding to this is the ease of use of the Siemens 828D ShopMill Control, which enhances the knowledge already available on the shopfloor through its JobShop Concept. JobShop uses easy to understand prompts to assist in creating a schedule of the machining stages. For further reassurance, the operator can then simulate the entire program on the control’s 10.4″ TFT screen in either plan, three planes or full 3D prior to machining the first-off component.

(Above) The XYZ MiniMill 560 installed at Task Engineering.