Leigh Andrews in front of XYZ 750 TMC.

According to the RAC, 30 vans are stolen and a further 80 broken into every day in the UK.  Van Guard Accessories based in Exeter aims to help van owners and operators minimise their risk of becoming a victim. Leigh Andrews, Director of operations at Van Guard says, “The average theft is valued at £2,500 excluding damage to the van which can cost around £2000 on top.”

The company has been operating for over 40 years and has been offering its ULTI Lock hooklock, which is the first Gold Standard Sold Secure hooklock for vans, for the past three years.

Previously, the locks offered were manufactured in Germany and Portugal, but the price point became uncompetitive, so Van Guard designed its own better product, fabricating the sheet metal parts itself on its laser cutter and subcontracting the turned and machined parts. Leigh Andrews wanted to bring the subcontracted parts in house and started off with the machining of face plates on an XYZ 750 TMC with ProtoTRAK® RMX control and 20 Station carousel tool changer. Fixturing was designed so that 22 parts could fit on the machine on one pallet. Previously the face plates were countersunk manually but, as the countersinks were different depths it took three operations and 15 minutes per part. To subcontract this operation cost £1.10 per part so in house machining was easy to justify with a cycle time of 30 seconds per plate and a payback on the machine of less than three years.

Fixture holding 22 face plates.

Leigh Andrews says, “The ULTI Lock has been a raging success, and we are making between 4000 and 6000 per month. Typically, each van will have two or three hooklocks, one on the rear door and two on the side door. We are preparing more fixtures so that we can introduce the machining of other parts in house. Currently we are only using 50% of the XYZ 750 TMC’s capacity so we have plenty of machining time available for different parts and increased demand for our products. Furthermore, with the machine’s swarf conveyor, we are able to recover more money from recycling the swarf while at the same time maintaining a clean machine and clean coolant.”

ULTI Lock hooklocks installed on a rear van door.

Van Guard chose the XYZ 750 TMC as Leigh Andrews had had experience of the machines at a previous company and because XYZ Machine Tools is local. “We were easily able to go up to the Burlescombe factory for training on the machine and ProtoTRAK® and XYZ engineers carried out additional training on site, helping us with our components. We are experienced in sheet metal, but new to CNC machining and the graphics and ease of use of ProtoTRAK® made the crossover from manual to CNC machining easier.” Additionally, the machine was delivered ex stock and Van Guard was able to take advantage of the capital allowance tax break on 4th April 2023 just before it ended.


The operator that was previously doing the countersinking can now be more productive elsewhere making a 70% labour saving. The XYZ 750 TMC operates on its own, with the only tasks required being loading and unloading the pallet fixture while the previous one is in cycle and switching the fixtures in the machine at the end of each cycle.

As part of the machine tool package, Van Guard chose a three-year service package which covers routine maintenance and accidental damage. Leigh Andrews adds,

“The XYZ 750 TMC is the third most important machine in the workshop, and we can’t ship product without it. The response we get to support queries is almost immediate and overall, the machine is value for money and does a good job. In three years, we have gone from a cold start to shipping over £1.5 million security products through our lock fitting network across the UK and Ireland and the XYZ 750 TMC is a key part of that success.”

Machining finished on face plates in the XYZ 750 TMC.