Celebrating its centenary in 2021, core business at Huddersfield-based Westin Drives centres on the provision of 24/7 service and repair facilities for electric motors and other electro-mechanical equipment. Until recently, any machining required was either subcontracted or limited to a single manual centre lathe.
Five years ago, the decision was made to bring machining in-house to address logistical issues surrounding the company’s low-volume subcontract requirement. With no prior internal machining knowledge, this facility has transformed to what is Westin Engineering today.
Westin Engineering has just taken delivery of its first five-axis machining centre, adding to two turning centres and a vertical machining centre equipped with a 4th-axis, all of which were provided by XYZ Machine Tools.
Initially, these machine investments were intended to support services at Westin Drives. However, the facility developed rapidly and, with strategic acquisitions, Westin Engineering has evolved into a full-service subcontract machinist offering everything from the reverse engineering of single components to volume production for a diverse
range of industries.
“Our primary priorities were milling and turning capabilities, which saw the arrival of the XYZ 1020 VMC with an optional fourth axis,” states Fraser Lynch, director at Westin Engineering. “This allowed us to machine larger bearing housings, while the XYZ SLX 425 ProTurn lathe was ideal for one-off and low-volume turning work to support Westin Drives.”
While these two machines enabled Westin Engineering to support its sister company, the next major move came in 2017 with the purchase of Kenward Engineering, a gear-cutting specialist, followed by the acquisition of general subcontractor, Kingsmith Engineering. These two developments brought with them a need for further machining investment.
“Much of the machining capability of these two businesses was either specialist gear-cutting equipment or dated turning and milling machines, so we needed to invest further, particularly in turning and milling capacity,” says Lynch. “We looked at mill-turn machines, but after speaking with XYZ Machine Tools we decided to acquire an XYZ CT65 LTY turning centre with LNS barfeed capability.
“With a Y axis and live tooling on our two CT65 LTYs it meant we could transfer a lot of work directly to them and reduce the number of operations required from four or five in some cases, down to just two operations maximum,” he continues. “The barfeed allows us to run unmanned throughout the night. During the day, the two machines are managed by a single operator, giving us significant efficiency gains for a vast majority of work. These two machines can achieve the work output of two lathes and two machining centres.”
With the bulk of the turning and milling now accounted for, attention turned to gear cutting. The acquisition of Kenward brought with it several specialist gear cutting, shaping and hobbing machines, but Westin Engineering was looking for greater versatility, especially for one-off or low-volume manufacture where the cost of specialist gear-cutting tooling was prohibitive. Smaller shaft and pinion work could be accommodated on the XYZ 1020 VMC, but larger diameter gears posed a problem. The solution was an XYZ UMC-5X simultaneous five-axis machining centre.
“We discussed our requirement with the applications team at XYZ Machine Tools and through their recommendation, we contacted Don Tyne Gear Systems, a specialist in gear design,” says Lynch. “Their software can generate gear data that can be transferred to our Open Mind CADCAM, allowing the machining of the full tooth form utilising the simultaneous five-axis capability of the XYZ UMC-5X.”
The combination of software and Siemens control on the UMC-5X makes gear design and manufacture almost conversational. By eliminating reliance on highly-skilled personnel, time-consuming calculations and expensive gear-cutting tooling, it meant Westin Engineering could provide a quick response and dramatically shorten lead times for this type of work. A further advantage is that by making use of sister tooling in the UMC-5X tool changer (with up to 60 positions), the machine can run lights out.
“Using standard probing and integrated ‘Smart Machining Technology’ on the UMC-5X we can monitor tool wear,” explains Lynch. “Alternatively we can set the machine to switch to sister tooling after a determined number of teeth have been cut, which ensures production is maintained overnight. All while using standard tooling such as ball-nose cutters.
“We see a lot of potential on the machining side and we’re identifying a lack of supply capability, especially where it involves more than just making to drawing and there is a requirement for engineering input,” he adds. “Our investment is enabling us to cut lead times on work such as this. Partnering with XYZ Machine Tools has additional benefits through their close working relationships with other suppliers, such as Open Mind and Ceratizit. In addition, the ProtoTRAK and Siemens controls bring added flexibility to our work. Throw in the cost benefit of the XYZ machines and it all makes perfect sense.”
This willingness to invest is paying dividends and has helped Westin Engineering to build on its reputation for delivering on its promises. Moreover, the company’s partnership with XYZ Machine Tools goes beyond the simple provision of machining capacity.
For further information www.xyzmachinetools.com