Scottish Robotic Systems, a special purpose machine builder based in Perth, controls all of its design, product development and manufacturing in-house, with the only exception being sheet metalwork. This achievement has been made possible thanks to investment over the years in XYZ machine tools. The company’s first XYZ machine, a ProtoTrak turret mill was made 20 years ago, and was quickly followed by two more.
“These first mills transformed the way we went about our business,” says director Ross Walker. “We used to have to draw the part then put it out to subcontract. Once the XYZ machines arrived, we machined things ourselves, accelerating the prototyping process and spending less time drawing parts. They literally saved us weeks in product development as we could make parts quickly, when we needed them, without relying on external suppliers.”
Those three ProtoTrak mills are still in the workshop at Scottish Robotic Systems, but they have now been joined by two XYZ vertical machining centres, a VMC 710 and a high-speed 1060 HS. As the company’s products developed and pressure on lead times increased, this investment was the next logical step for Walker. Drawings are now done using CAD systems for prototyping, and the files are then post-processed ready for downloading to the machines’ Siemens controls. Such is their speed of operation, the investment has also created opportunities to bring in subcontract work from other suppliers.
“I had no machining experience whatsoever before I came to work for my father but, having used the ProtoTrak machines, the transition to the VMCs and the Siemens control was straightforward,” says Walker. “The speed of set-up is excellent and, although we have CADCAM, we program most jobs at the machine as it’s so easy – we can be cutting metal very quickly.”
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