28/2/2018 Fairbrother and Grimshaw make light work of heavyweight applications with Harrison Alpha CNC lathe
Soon after taking delivery of a Harrison Alpha 1550XS CNC lathe during summer 2017, Fairbrother and Grimshaw have seen their growing reputation spread even further, resulting in an upturn in orders, utilising the Alpha lathes versatility for taking on larger capacity mill/turn jobs.
Fairbrother and Grimshaw are a Lancashire sub-contract engineering business who specialise in CNC milling, turning and boring, from their facility in the Cherry Tree area of Blackburn. The company has a large, loyal customer base, working across industries including paper, automotive, plastics and food, where they pride themselves on project engineering for their customers and not just making subcontract parts in volume.
Neil Grimshaw, director of Fairbrother and Grimshaw said: “When our customers contact us, they are looking to solve production issues, so understanding the application and how it works is important for both parties, so in many cases, we encourage our engineers to either improve the parts made or improve the process involved.”
Relationships are also key to their continued success where regularly, production staff are encouraged to get involved with the customer to see the application first-hand, so continued improvements can be made more easily.
Neil Grimshaw added, “We are firm believers of pushing what we do with current technology and standing still is not an option for us. We ask our workforce to be the best in everything they do and that means investment in recruiting and training apprentices to ensure that our skills are passed on. The Alpha manual/CNC lathe is ideal in that sense as it is an easy switch from turning manually to using the Alpha with the minimum of training.”
“We already have some Colchester manual turning machines and we have a range of VMC’s and CNC turning centres from many suppliers, but the large capacity turning applications were difficult for us to manage. The Alpha XS has helped us raise the bar and added a different dimension to our turning capability. This, in turn has already helped spread our reputation and we are taking on more work because of it.”
The 2 metre between centres Alpha 1550XS has a generous swing over bed of 554mm and a 104mm spindle bore and with its large 15kW motor, this means that the 1550XS spindle speeds can reach up to 2000 rpm.
Neil Grimshaw commented: “When we purchased the Alpha, we also made use of its range of accessories, including steadies, morse tapers and 4 jaw chucks, to give us the maximum flexibility to our work for customers”.
“We had a batch of rollers to make for our paper industry customer where we were asked to achieve a surface finish of N6 or better, where we had a couple of jobs where we struggled with our existing manual machines. However, after buying the Alpha and working with our tooling supplier, who suggested cutting tips that allowed us to actually achieve an N2 finish, which was also achieved throughout the whole batch, which is down to the stability and accuracy of the Alpha lathe, that every piece was identical from start to finish.”
“We did consider other lathes, but once we saw the Alpha, there was never any doubt in our minds as no other competing product could match the combination of flexibility, accuracy and value for money. The added bonus with the Alpha is that you can choose which mode you want to work in and that the Fanuc Oi-TF control is totally compatible with many of our other turning machines, so that we can switch jobs if needed”.
“We also manufacture mixer shafts for an automotive customer and this was all done on a manual machine, but it is so easy to program, redesign and store improvements on the Alpha, taking component manufacture to the next level.”
“Competition in the local area is very high, so to stay in front, we offer our customers long-term commitment by analysing how many components are made over the year and offering call-off quantities whenever they are needed. Pricing comes into this as the regular manufacture of these components helps us to make improvements and reduce cycle times, which the Alpha lathe is an excellent machine for achieving that.”
For further information, contact:
Paul Rushworth, Sales Director - 600 UK
Philip Cullen, 600 Group Marketing Manager
Tel: +44 (0) 1924 415000