Having worked for and with other people for over 40 years, Barry Clayden took the decision towards the end of last year that the time was right, if he was going to spend long hours working, he may as well do it for himself, so in October 2015 Hoddesden-based Clayden Precision Engineering was born. While stepping into the world of self-employment after such a long time working for others may have the average person moist under the armpits, the support of XYZ Machine Tools ensured that everything ran smoothly for Barry.

“We knew we had an agreement with one particular customer manufacturing hydraulic connectors that are mainly used in Formula One and other motorsport environments. It was with these parts in mind that we started looking for machines. Initially we wanted a small machining centre and a two axis lathe, but when we got talking to Colin Thomson at XYZ and he explained the advantages of the y-axis on the Compact Turn 52 LTY machine, which all made perfect sense,” says Barry Clayden. The next issue for the fledgling company was how to finance the machines. Here, again, XYZ stepped up to the mark and arranged through its preferred finance suppliers a deal for both machines. Not only that, but the local knowledge of its salesman Colin also flagged up the opportunity to apply for grants through the Regional Growth Fund as part of the finance package, which equated to £10,000 per machine. The criteria for the awarding of the grant was that Clayden Precision had to recruit new employees, which it did with Lewis becoming a full-time employee and Edward Farrell, joining the team as Workshop Supervisor/CNC Programmer. XYZ and its partners organising the funding removed a major headache for us and we placed the order the last week of September, we got the keys to the factory on the 1st October and the machines were delivered and installed by the 13th October. We then had three days training at XYZ’s Waltham Abbey showroom and we were straight back making parts. The first component we programmed was quite a complex plastic part and when we showed it to the XYZ Applications engineer, even he was impressed with our newly acquired skills,” says Barry.

The Siemens controls on the XYZ MiniMill 560 and Compact Turn 52 LTY was also a step-change for Barry as he had never used conversational programming before, having been steeped in the world of G-code for many years. However, the change was extremely smooth and the learning curve both shallower and shorter than expected, with Lewis taking the lead on this. The Siemens 828D control makes life so much easier, and as we do a large variety of components that are different, but similar, it is a quick and straightforward procedure to develop new programs from existing ones. If we wanted to use G-code it would be much more of a drawn out process. We certainly feel that we are more productive and the superb graphics definitely make programming at the machine and proving out programs so much quicker and easier,” says Lewis Clayden.

This speed of programming and set-up is vital to Clayden Precision, whose work revolves around multiple small volume batches, with 100-off being a large quantity. The benefit of the y-axis on the Compact Turn 52 LTY has also been proven with the company winning work that it knows it would not have been able to compete on if it did not have that capability of milling and completing components in a single hit. With the business just a few months old confidence is high and while already working to ISO 9001 standards Clayden Precision is going through the formalities of becoming accredited to this international quality standard, which will create more opportunities and allow expansion into other sectors of manufacturing.

“We have been busy from the off, and the support that we received from XYZ Machine Tools was a great help and allowed us to meet the deadlines for those early orders and having that capacity has encouraged more business,. As such, we are already looking at our next XYZ machine,” says Barry Clayden.

(Above) The Y-axis capability of the XYZ CT 52 LTY has been a great benefit to Clayden Precision.

(Above) The first part programmed at Clayden Precision on the Siemens control.

(Above) TA typical selection of parts produced on the XYZ MiniMill 560 and CT 52 LTY.

(Above) Barry Clayden at the control of the XYZ CT 52 LTY.

(Above) Lewis Clayden operating the XYZ MiniMill 560.