PECO fast-tracks another Sodick machine

A manufacturer of products for model railway enthusiasts has placed an order for another Sodick EDM machine. Devon-based PECO, which supplies its products to model shops across the UK and around the world, is about to enhance its toolroom with the addition of a Sodick ALC400G ‘i Groove edition’ wire-erosion machine from Sodi-Tech EDM. It will join three existing Sodick machines on site.

Established in 1946, PECO (Pritchard Patent Product Co Ltd) has its headquarters and manufacturing plant in the picturesque Devon fishing village of Beer, where the 150-employee business produces model rolling stock and track across eight different scales (from Z to G), as well as lineside/scenic and electrical accessories. Manufacturing in-house is clearly important to this progressive business, which is why the company runs a fully equipped tool room.

With its existing Sodick wire EDM passing a decade of service – and despite its ongoing excellent performance – PECO decided it would be prudent to look at a second wire-cut model.

“It was only ever going to be another Sodick,” states innovations manager Paul. Hitchcock. “Not just because of machine quality, accuracy and ease-of-use, but also the support and relationship we have with Sodi-Tech EDM. We saw a press article about the Sodick ALC400G with its ‘i Groove’ rotating wire mechanism and decided to undertake some trials.”

Applying rotation to the wire reduces wire consumption and allows the constant use of new wire surface for enhanced finishing and accuracy from the top to the bottom of the workpiece. This capability brings further peace-of-mind regarding precision and reliability, which is vital to a busy company such as PECO. The plant works a single shift but often leaves its Sodick machines to run overnight unattended.
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PP C&A signs new Winbro deal

A strategic manufacturing outsourcing specialist has signed a major new deal to support the development of a UK-built EDM drilling machine. PP Control & Automation, which employs over 230 people at its facility in the West Midlands, will assemble the EDM generator module that forms the heartbeat of Winbro Group Technologies’ new HSD-351 model.

A new production cell manned by eight PP C&A experts has been set-up to complete the build, with work on the first 25 units set to begin shortly for use in drilling holes in complex aerospace and industrial gas turbine blades and nozzle guide vanes. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that has spanned a decade and 10 different model variants, with the decision to outsource continuing to provide production ‘flex’, reduced assembly time and improved supply chain management for the Leicestershire-based firm.

Tony Hague, CEO of PP C&A, says: “If you’re going to write a book about strategic manufacturing outsourcing and how it can work, I’d like to think this relationship would be in the case study section. To work with a company that operates in such a demanding field for 10 years is some achievement, and we’re delighted to be entering our ‘testimonial year’ with a new machine tool to help them build.”

He continues: “The HSD-351 is an EDM machine that packs so much power in so little space and we have been instrumental in helping produce the heartbeat of the model – the EDM generator module.”

With a footprint of just 2.5 sq m, the HD-351 boasts a capacity of almost 700 electrodes across a range of diameters.
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Up to 20% faster processing speeds

GF Machining Solutions recently supplied a new wire EDM machine to Bedestone Ltd, a wire erosion and jig-grinding specialist based in Birmingham. The machine, an AgieCharmilles CUT P 550 Pro has taken its place alongside two, previously acquired, large-capacity wire EDM machines and two EDM hole drills, to create a flexible, responsive and high-precision wire EDM resource for its growing customer base.

Says co-owner and director, Richard Stanley: “The new machine has replaced an older Charmilles 330F wire eroder which, while still able to meet our accuracy and surface finish requirements, was relatively slow by today’s standards and was experiencing some reliability issues that, if left unchecked, would likely impact on our ability to meet customer lead times in the future.”

He continues: “We spent time identifying the key features and characteristics of the new machine we needed and approached a number of EDM machine tool manufacturers with our plans. We had also devised a challenging test cut [machining a precision spline] that we asked the participating machine tool manufacturers to undertake.”

The key performance indicators of the test cut were part accuracy and cycle time. On both measures, as it transpired, the CUT P 550 Pro wire EDM machine from GF Machining Solutions came out on top.

Says Stanley: “The CUT P 550 Pro was the best performing machine in the test cut, but our decision wasn’t just based on the results of the test. We also liked and responded positively to the business approach adopted by GF Machining Solutions. From the outset they were interested in what we were doing and where we wanted to get to. It felt more collaborative rather than merely a supplier providing a new machine to a customer.”
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Erodex inspires greater health and wellbeing

Erodex UK, a Black Country based supplier of graphite and EDM consumables to the aerospace industry supplier, is supporting the ‘Workplace Health at One You Walsall’ and ‘Healthy Years Ahead’ initiatives to help its employees and local community become more aware of the benefits of living a healthy, active lifestyle.

Workplace Health at One You Walsall, funded by Walsall Council, is a free healthy lifestyle service dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of all residents across Walsall. Services exist to help residents make the best choices for their lifestyle, from health and fitness to emotional wellbeing.

Erodex HR manager Deborah Bayliss says: “As a business we were looking to engage our employees in health and wellbeing initiatives and saw the opportunity to become involved with Workplace Health at One You Walsall, in addition to the Healthy Years Ahead initiative, which works with individuals of 40 years of age and older. So far, we’ve held a workplace event to engage employees and introduce the initiatives. From this we gained expressions of interest in services offered by the organisations.”

She adds: “There’s been a great response and we’re looking to book in a practitioner to deliver two full days of health assessments for our employees. From these we’ll plan future health and wellbeing sessions in the workplace and signpost to outside services.”

Erodex employs 85 people across two sites in Halesowen and Darlaston, West Midlands, as well as a site in Croydon.
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Accelerating towards digital transformation

Celonis and Accenture are teaming up to support Mann+Hummel, a global filtration solutions provider for markets that include EDM, to accelerate its company-wide digital transformation and become a data-driven enterprise. By leveraging intelligent insights and actions, Mann+Hummel will improve and optimise its processes to increase operational excellence and become even more customer-centric.

Accenture has supported Mann+Hummel’s data-driven enterprise journey since 2019. Together with global execution management specialist Celonis, Accenture will foster the firm’s process capabilities by helping to roll out Celonis’ execution management system across Mann+Hummel in a multi-year program.

With this strategic collaboration, Mann+Hummel will gain new levels of transparency and an objective, fact-based understanding of how its core business processes really run. This will enable the company to identify performance barriers in real-time and take automated action to remove inefficiencies and improve processes. Insights from the initial stages of deployment have already created process standardisation and optimisation in the areas of supply, distribution and production. This will be expanded on in the coming months across materials, planning and logistics, to improve cycle times and productivity, reduce rework, optimise inventory, increase automation and streamline global execution.

Emese Weissenbacher, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Mann+Hummel, says: “Our efforts and investments in standardisation are all targeted towards being able to stay a step ahead of customer needs. Deploying Celonis market-leading process mining and execution management capabilities enables us to drive more intelligent, data-driven insights, measures and decisions. I am convinced with this transformation we can take our business processes to the next level and create an agile platform for continuous improvement.”
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