Innovation drives investment

When pneumatics expert John (Jack) Bushby formed Sheffield-based Air Accessories in 1967, it was as a wholesaler of proprietary products from the world’s leading manufacturers, something that continues to this day.

From those early days, customer service was at the heart of everything the company did, and this vision remains under current owner and managing director Nick McKee. Part of that service is delivering products that meet customer needs precisely, and these don’t always come from a standard catalogue; therefore, a need for additional machining capacity to meet in-house product development was required.
Turnover has doubled since McKee took over the business and led to a push from Ian Malpass, Air Accessories’ production manager, and CNC setter operator Clive Glossop, to extend its in-house machining capacity. Already a user of an XYZ ProtoTRAK mill, an update to this machine seemed to be the obvious route for the company to take, as that control is ideal for the one-off and low-volume work planned. However, Malpass and Glossop had other ideas.
They put forward a proposal to bring in vertical machining centre capacity in the form of an XYZ 500 LR VMC.
“At the back of my mind was the fact that we are pneumatic engineers, not production engineers, and my thought was a machine of this type was a luxury, not a necessity, but I recognise that to get the best out of people you need to have better equipment,” says McKee. “The new machine would also reduce our reliance on putting work out to subcontract and, give us greater flexibility. Now that we have the machine, we may well become production engineers as it gives us the flexibility we need; it’s like having another member of staff.
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