These fabrications, which can be anything from a simple bracket to fully-assembled and tested machines, are supplied to customers in the power generation, oil and gas, and yellow goods sectors, among others.

At any one time Stevens & Carlotti can have up to 1,200 individual jobs in progress which, in addition to laser cutting, CNC punching and folding, welding, and painting, also require the support of a machining facility. Investment in turning and milling capacity with machines from XYZ Machine Tools has enhanced productivity on its fabricated components and has also opened opportunities to develop a dedicated subcontract machining capability.

“Machining of parts used in our fabrications remains the bread and butter for our machine shop, but with the increased capacity and capability we have now seen a growth in pure machining work for customers. This now accounts for 10 to 15% of our machined output and is growing year-on-year,” says Joe Douglas, planning manager at the company.

The investment in XYZ machines began back in 2005 when the company took delivery of its first XYZ 560 Minimill, quickly adding a second, slightly larger XYZ VMC to its capacity list. These were then followed by a high-speed XYZ 1060 HS VMC.

“While we rarely use the maximum spindle speed of the 1060 HS, the all-round performance of this machine, with its fast traverse speeds and the Siemens control helps to reduce cycle times,” Mr Douglas says.

More recently Stevens & Carlotti has taken delivery of additional capacity in the form of an XYZ TC 320 LTY turning centre, an XYZ 1510 HD vertical machining centre and an XYZ 710 HD VMC.

The TC 320 LTY turning centre replaced a temperamental lathe from another manufacture and provides greater capacity with its bar feed, 78mm bar capacity, 43hp/32kW spindle and 100mm Y-axis. It is the turning workhorse of the business with operator Callum Jones simply stating ‘it works’ when asked why he likes it.

The large capacity, heavy-duty XYZ 1510 HD VMC provides added capacity and capability, with its 1,600 x 600mm table giving Mr Douglas the option of putting large workpieces on it or multiple smaller workpieces – the latter option giving the further productivity boost of being able to leave the machine running out of hours.

“We have trust in the machine to be able to leave it running unmanned in the knowledge that it will produce accurate parts without any manual intervention,” he says.

Another important part of the machine buying decision process for Stevens & Carlotti was the control system, in particular its ease-of-use. Like many companies, finding people with the right skills is a challenge so anything that simplifies the manufacturing process is welcome. The XYZ turning and machining centre ranges’ use of the Siemens ShopTurn and ShopMill control systems is a major plus for Mr Douglas:

He explains: “The XYZ machines give us everything we need; our location makes it hard to recruit specific skills and nobody operating our XYZ machines had any CNC experience before coming here.

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“It’s testament to the ease-of-use of the Siemens control with its visual prompts and conversational programming that we program 98% of our parts at the machine which has the additional benefit that the operators continue to learn and improve their use of the technology, generating greater efficiencies, and they feel more involved as we can simply give them a drawing and they are in complete control of how the part is made.”

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