When it comes to sub-contract manufacturing most companies will boast about their workforce and their machines. These are of course two critical elements with any successful machine shop, having the right tools to perform complex and intricate cutting and the staff who know how to operate them are key. Yet there is one skill that the casual observer would take for granted, and that’s learning.
It’s quite often the case that we have not manufactured any given part that comes through our door and so in a very short amount of time there are multiple factors we need to determine. The first is determining which tolerances are critical to the component and what process steps need to be taken in order to achieve this. Any component may be subject to multiple process steps including CNC milling, CNC Turning, Grinding as well as surface finishes such as electro- plating. Determining the process steps allows us to work up an estimate on how long the job will take and the potential costs.
It’s important to bear in mind though that an estimate is exactly that, an estimate. Although our team have many years’ experience in machining we don’t really know how long a part will take until we have actually made one. There will always be an element of guesswork in any quotation.
Any new component represents some level of risk to us in that if we get the component wrong it will often cost money to replace. This is why it makes common sense that the first component produced will often be done so more carefully. This first component produced is always fully inspected to ensure it meet our customer’s specification and from here a larger production batch can be made.
In many cases we will work with a customer on their parts over the span of years and in some cases decades. This means that we have a lot of time to learn how to carry out the job in a more time effective manner which ultimately saves our customer’s money. Technology is always changing and advancing too and this also gives us a chance to re-evaluate how best to manufacture something. This year we have invested in a new CME FS3 multi axis milling machine which has a cutting head that can reach multiple angles. This new technology has enabled us to combine multiple processes into one operation, significantly saving on time. We are always looking at what policies and protocol can make us more efficient as a business.
As a forward-thinking business, we want to ensure that the components we machine meet the needs of our customers. Quite often we will perform a ‘closing the loop’ activity with a component. This is a simple follow up a few months after the project to ensure that the part functioned as it should. This is a simple but effective step in seeing what further lessons could be learnt from any given project.
All of the above steps are carried out many times a day with a wide variety of materials and components being made. Learning is our most underrated skill and yet as a sub-contractor it is vital to ensuring that we can produce large and complex components in a cost competitive manner for our customers. Bronte Precision are ISO 9001:2015 certified and deliver across the country.