Arrowsmith Engineering, which is part of the AS.G Group, has invested over £200,000 into a new Doosan 4th axis machining centre and robotic cell that will help it boost production speed and increase capacity by 50%. The company is using ‘lights-out’ manufacturing to run a precision engine part 24-hours a day, seven days per week, supplying more than 200 components every month to customers based in Spain and the US. Integrating robots into the process has removed the need for a second machine, freeing that up to cope with new contract wins that have seen turnover soar to £7.5m and the workforce grow a further 10% to seventy people.
Jason Aldridge, Managing Director of Arrowsmith Engineering, commented: “I’m a big fan of automation and don’t’ sign up to the notion that it’s taking jobs - if anything it will make us more competitive so we can take additional people on. The Doosan CNC machining centre and cobot system is our first investment in robotics and has been configured to suit our specific requirements for 24-hour manufacturing on a complex component for the aerospace sector.
“It has removed the need for an operator to load and unload the parts and this person has gone on to a different production process that is more skilled. This is just the start of what we hope will be a continuous investment drive in robots at our factory on Bayton Road.”
He continued: “It’s made us 15% quicker and given us a 50% capacity boost, that’s some payback already. Automation shouldn’t be seen as something that only the big boys do… SMEs can access it cost-effectively and we need to ‘grasp the nettle’ in order to bring the UK’s productivity up and in line with our international rivals.”
Arrowsmith Engineering is a specialist in precision turning, milling, thread rolling and grinding, providing components to aerospace tier 1s and primes in titanium, nimonics, stainless steel, exotic metal and engineering plastics. The company, which has been supported by Coventry University and Coventry City Council on its latest investment, supplies parts that are used all over the world in aerospace engines, landing gears and air frame. It has been able to overcome Brexit uncertainty to boost its export business by 400%, thanks mainly to delivering world class manufacturing performance, with ‘On Time In Full’ at 98.5% and quality running at 99.95% for the past 12 months.
This level of continuing operational excellence has seen it recently secure the Supply Chains for the 21st Century (SC21) Silver Award for the third consecutive year, which has contributed to it becoming one of the first firms to be entered into the Competitiveness & Growth Programme.
Jason continued: “It’s all about pushing the boundaries in what we want to achieve, challenging our staff to drive growth by giving them access to training and the best technology. The SC21 Silver Award is a great achievement for our business and proves that SMEs can compete with the best in the world when it comes to manufacturing excellence. This is just the start; we want to be at £9m by the end of 2020 and then looking at how we break the £10m barrier before too much longer.”