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Offshore subcontractor takes off with Vulcan

Located in Moray, North-East Scotland, an area famous for its Scotch Whisky, Standfast Precision Engineering Ltd provides subcontract manufacturing services that are far more edifying than a tipple. The manufacturer continually invests in machine tools to serve its clients in the offshore and whisky distillery sectors. The latest investment is a Vulcan 710L VMC from the Engineering Technology Group (ETG). 

Located in Craigellachie where the River Spey meets the River Fiddich, Standfast has continually invested in new technology to enable the production of high quality components. Primarily working with the oil and gas industry, Standfast has witnessed significant growth in recent years as the offshore industry has enjoyed a renaissance. With a facility that incorporates everything from manual and CNC turning, milling and EDM machining, the company is evolving its business assets to satisfy the demands of its clients. 

The latest acquisition, a Vulcan 710L VMC with a 4th axis Lehmann rotary unit from ETG was purchased to provide additional capacity and increase the throughput of its smaller components. As Company Owner and Director Graham Wilson says: “We had a small bed 3-axis machine with a rotary unit, but the compact work area was limited even further by the 4th axis unit. This meant we could only process very small parts or we’d have to transfer components to our larger bed machines that are dedicated to larger jobs – disrupting our workflow and creating capacity issues. We spoke to Ross Milne at ETG’s Scottish distribution partner RAM Engineering & Tooling and he recommended the Vulcan 710L VMC.”

“We reviewed the market, looking for a machine with a Siemens CNC in a short lead time, as our workload was ramping up and the issue was causing a bottleneck. ETG provided the solution with the Vulcan, and it has been a tremendous asset since it was installed,” adds Graham. 

With a limited floor area, the compact Vulcan slotted straight into the shop floor. The outgoing machine only had a worktable of 500mm, which was too small to fit both a 4th axis unit and a vice for 3-axis work. However, the spacious work area of the Vulcan provides a worktable of 760 by 420mm. Commenting upon this, CNC Machinist at Standfast, Mr Scott Coull says: “With the space in the Vulcan, we can fit the 4th axis unit and a tailstock to stabilise larger parts.”

Operating the machine daily, Scott adds: “We program parts at the machine and the new Siemens CNC has a large touchscreen interface that improves programming speed by at least 30%. We typically produce batches from 10 to 20 off, so we can program 10 to 20 jobs each week with each program taking from 15 minutes to a couple of hours, so this saving in programming time is significant.”

Looking at the build quality and performance of the machine, Scott adds: “The Vulcan is a more rigid and robust machine than its predecessor and this enables us to undertake heavier cutting conditions. Furthermore, the previous spindle had a maximum speed of 8000rpm and the Vulcan provides 10,000rpm, this significantly improves our productivity.”

The family business owned and run by Graham and his wife Michelle has also witnessed improved surface finishes, product quality and reduced downtime since the acquisition of the Vulcan. Scott adds: “Whilst the Vulcan has a tool setting probe that eradicates our previous method of using a dial gauge on every new tool that we put in the machine. This can save us a couple of hours of manual tool setting on the machine each week. In addition, the rapid tool changer is at least 50% faster than the previous machine.”

Concluding on the acquisition, Graham says: “We needed a machine with a particular specification for our requirements that was going to deliver reliability and performance. The Vulcan machine from ETG has more capacity, more torque, and a streamlined 4th-axis system and it provides the space for us to machine relatively large parts in either a 3-axis or 4th-axis setup.”

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