Mills CNC, the exclusive distributor of Doosan machine tools in the UK and Ireland, has recently supplied DRB Group, a supplier of innovative and integrated turnkey and process improvement solutions based in Deeside, with three new, high-productivity machine tools. The machines, comprising two Fanuc-controlled multi-tasking lathes with integrated Y axes and driven tools, and a large-capacity, Fanuc-controlled five-axis machining centre, were delivered and installed at DRB Group’s 100,000 sq ft machine shop facility in late 2021.

DRB Group is a family-owned business established in 1976 with a focus on the repair, maintenance and supply of industrial electric motors, generators and mechanical transmission systems. The company has, over the past 46 years, undergone a metamorphosis and today provides a growing number of UK-based processing and manufacturing customers operating in highly regulated and demanding sectors with a range of integrated and standalone services and solutions. DRB Group serves industries that include rail, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, medical, energy, and waste management, to name but a few.

The company’s services can include everything from the supply of high-quality machined components and assemblies, critical asset condition monitoring, the maintenance and repair of customer plant and equipment, through to the design, development, manufacture and installation of, what can often be, complex turnkey solutions that can include new plant, equipment and processes.

With a dedicated project management team working alongside highly experienced design, applications and production engineers, DRB Group is a proven and successful single-source solutions provider with particular skills and competencies in mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems.

As part of its regularly updated strategic company-wide continuous improvement programme, DRB Group makes significant investment, year-on-year, in improving its people, plant and equipment, and its processes and systems. This commitment to continuous improvement has, over recent years, seen the company increase its headcount, implement an in-house apprenticeship training programme, create dedicated areas for assembly, inspection and testing, and develop its in-house manufacturing capabilities that centre on machining and fabrication.

Explains Matt Bennett, CEO, DRB Group: “The investment in the three new Doosan machines was made to increase our machining capacity and improve our capabilities. Despite the outbreak of the pandemic, demand for our turnkey and process improvement solutions – many of which require the machining of bespoke components – and for our high-quality batch machining services, were on the increase. This situation was putting pressure on our existing in-house machining resources.”

He continues: “In order to avoid production bottlenecks occurring in the future, and ensure that lead times were not compromised, we made the decision to invest in multi-tasking machine tools.”

The three new Doosan machines acquired by DRB Group are all multi-axis, multi-tasking machines. Multi-tasking machines deliver significant productivity, operational efficiency and quality benefits to manufacturers. These include: reduced part set-up and cycle times; lower fixture costs; increased part accuracies and repeatabilities (because parts do not require transferring from one machine to another for completion); the elimination of production bottlenecks; and the ability to meet tight lead times and customer delivery schedules.

Says Bennett: “We made the strategic decision not just to increase our machining capacity, but to increase our capabilities. That’s why we now have lathes with Y axes, C axes, driven tools and tailstocks, and why we have a large-capacity, ultra-versatile, simultaneous five-axis machining centre.”

DRB Group, having audited its current machining resources and analysed where existing and future ‘pinch points’ were, and were likely to be, approached the market to discuss its plans and requirements with a handpicked number of machine tool suppliers. Mills CNC was one of those suppliers.

“We did our homework and knew that Doosan machine tools, and Mills CNC, had good reputations in the market,” says Bennett.
From talking over its plans with Mills CNC’s sales and applications engineers, it was agreed that a three machine tool package comprising two multi-tasking lathes and a large-capacity five-axis machine would meet DRB Group’s immediate and future machining requirements.

Recalls Bennett: “The Doosan/Mills CNC package had a number of advantages. As well as the machines ticking all the right boxes with regard to their technical specifications, they were also in stock and could be delivered and installed quickly. The comprehensive, integrated and single-source services provided by Mills – like its independent machine tool financing operation and its well-resourced and responsive aftersales support services – all had a positive impact on our decision making.”

DRB Group’s three new machines were installed at the company’s 6.5-acre facility in December 2021 and, since then, according to the company “haven’t missed a beat.” The two Puma lathes have been operating around the clock machining precision parts for two customers, while the VCF 850LSR has been used, among many other heavy-duty jobs, to machine large gearbox casings.

Concludes Bennett: “The new machines we now have at our disposal provide a strong foundation for future business growth.”

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