Simon Birt in front of XYZ 800 HD.

Specialising in aerospace and defence, HEC Precision in Southall has EN9100 and ISO 9100 quality approvals as well as approvals from Airbus and BAE Systems. It was an early adopter of 5-axis machinery installing the first of these machines in 1998, enabling it to manufacture complex parts much faster, more cost effectively and to higher accuracy.

Since then, the company has continued to invest in high value machinery but, the thinking on this policy changed with the installation of an XYZ 2OP machine for apprentices to use during their training. Danny Recknell, Technical Director says, “The ten-year-old machine was installed so that should there be a collision during training, the consequences would not be severe. However, we found that this machine was an eye opener and much more capable than we expected so when we had a suitable project, we decided that we did not need to invest in another high-cost machine.”

Fixture and parts loaded into rotary table.

The company saw the XYZ 800 HD at Southern Manufacturing 2022 and concluded that it stood out with its Siemens 828D control, solid cast ribbed structure, 24-station arm-type toolchanger, and vibration absorbing box slideways. Danny Recknell adds, “The XYZ 800 HD is a heavy hitting machine, it has all the bits of a high-end machine, its box slideways, heavy casting and Siemens control make a winning combination for heavy cutting operations and ideal for the parts we had in mind.”

‘Shell’ Parts being loaded in the fixture at HEC Precision.

The XYZ 800 HD was supplied with a rotary axis and HEC Precision developed and manufactured a pair of fixtures which enabled seven parts to be made in one cycle. Previously, these were done one at a time and required one person on a machine all day. Now the XYZ 800 HD makes 7 every 22 minutes, simply switching the fixtures in a quick changeover operation.

Simon Birt, Setter Operator says,

“We make batches of around 750 parts with the machine running all the time.”  The ‘Shell’ job currently on the machine starts from a turned tube. These are loaded on the fixture and require flats to be machined on two sides with a 0.5mm radius in the corner. “The sequence is – starting from a turned tube – rough all the tubes on one side, turn the fixture through 180 degrees in the rotary table, rough the other side and finally repeat with a finishing operation to get the 0.5mm corner radius.” As well as the ‘Shell’ job, the machine is used blocking up and making quick fixtures using the on machine ShopMill programming. More complex parts are programmed in the company’s Visi software, which it uses for all its CNC machines.

Machining underway on the XYZ 800 HD at HEC Precision.

Danny Recknell continues, “We bought the XYZ 800 HD for three jobs and we now manufacture all sorts of components on it. It was very easy to justify and our overall experience with XYZ Machine Tools has been excellent. Delivery was 4 weeks, which is unheard of in the industry. We get personal service from XYZ Machine Tools, and the sales experience was super. The accuracy requirements of most of our parts are well within the capabilities of the XYZ 800 HD so we don’t need high end machinery for them, making us rethink our attitude on future machinery purchasing.”