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Full process control after grinding machine investment
The decision to invest in a Jones & Shipman Suprema 1000 CNC universal grinding machine by Cheltenham based Future Advanced Manufacture Ltd has given the company in house control of its high precision grinding operations ensuring it complies with supply chain risk mitigation criteria.
Future works with companies such as Airbus, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, Triumph, GE Aviation and MT Aerospace in both the development of aircraft systems and complex prototype assemblies. Its core philosophy is to understand the dynamics of working in a rapidly evolving market and work hand-in-hand with its clients’ designers and development teams to provide a ‘virtual’ in-house manufacturing facility.
The organisation supports engineers and designers, turning their ideas, concepts and designs into highly engineered prototypes and high-quality, scalable production. It also collaborates with OEMs, specialist manufacturers and universities to provide innovative design and manufacturing solutions to support the research and development of advanced projects across a diverse set of industries including Oil and Gas, Nuclear, Marine, Defence, Aerospace, Space and Medical industries.
One of Future’s specialisms is the manufacture of critical flight products where a batch of 50 off components would – in their terms – be considered sizeable but where the absolute repeatability of machining processes is deemed critical.
“We relied on sub-contract grinding for some years but as the validation processes on component manufacturer became ever stricter, we felt the need to bring grinding in house in order to have 100% control of every aspect,” explains Future’s production director Jon Ellwood.
“This necessitated investment and we researched the market and established three criteria for our grinding machine purchase: a proven machine capable of operating in both production and (one-off) prototype environments; a machine that is operator friendly and one that is quality engineered to meet our high tolerance, repeatability demands alongside challenging workpiece materials.
“The Jones & Shipman machine more than met the criteria and they were also able to offer us excellent back up and operator training,” he adds.
The Suprema EASY purchased has a machining envelope of 320mm x 1000mm, a capacity Future uses to the full on occasion, particularly with components such as hydraulic actuation or damping products.
The Suprema is also particularly well suited to Future’s manufacturing operations as it was designed to accommodate high geometric accuracy with quick changeovers on a machine developed for robust applications. Equally at home on prototype or batch and high volume cylindrical grinding it is also specifically designed to offer unrivalled ease-of-use coupled to the highest levels of productivity.
It incorporates a colour touchscreen, used to access J&S’s simple and fast-to-set ‘EASY’ graphical software and features membrane-type touch keys and electronic handwheels. The ‘Self-Teach’ features of the software enable inexperienced and experienced operators alike to be immediately more productive.
An additional bonus comes from automatic dressing and grinding cycles which permit quick set-up’s with the machine then left unmanned with repeatable manufacture guaranteed.
Other primary features include external or universal wheelhead options, Fanuc® Digital AC servo motors, in cycle/out of cycle dressing with full compensation and straight, facing, angle and ISO wheel dressing macros.
“We had highly skilled personnel with experience of grinding but were conscious that the next generation were onboard as part of our apprentice training scheme,” Jon Ellwood explains.
“A machine such as the Suprema with user friendly programming and operating features has meant we have been able to deploy our apprentices and fully-skilled operators to excellent effect. Currently it operates across two shifts and is near capacity in terms of its work load.”
The diversity of Future’s manufacturing necessitates using the widest range of raw materials – it has machining approvals for exotic materials such as titanium, beryllium, molybdenum, high-tensile nickel and chrome-steels such as Inconel. Many finish grinding projects are to low micron tolerances with components frequently heat treated and chromed to add to the grinding challenge.
After grinding Future has invested in its own validation programmes, among them a NADCAP approved NDT laboratory with magnetic flaw detection, fluorescent dye pen and natal etch inspection. Again this highlights its absolute commitment to risk mitigation to ensure a ‘right first time’ culture.
Concluding, Jon Ellwood explains; “This machine has done everything we have asked of it. Grinding is now accepted as an in house operation and we have all the necessary skills and training. Our apprentices and experienced operators are very conversant with the capabilities of the Suprema and it is now ‘part of the family’ in the production area.”