The well documented downturn in the oil & gas market hit many sub-contract companies hard, and while many chose to make cutbacks, Craigellachie, Banffshire-based Standfast Precision Engineering decided to stand firm and resisted the temptation to downsize. This meant when the work started to return it was fully manned with all the skills it needed to meet demand.
“Most of our work is in the oil & gas sector, mainly providing parts for instrumentation and logging systems. When we bought the business in 2000 we started without any work whatsoever, then one customer appeared with a wad of drawings and told us to ‘crack on’. Which we did, and we have not looked back since. That customer has stayed loyal to us throughout and it was relationships like this that gave us the confidence to work through the latest downturn. This is the third oil and gas sector slump we have experienced, meaning we knew that things pick up eventually, so it was a case of take it as it comes while maintaining the skills that we had,” says Standfast Precision Engineering Director Malcolm Fraser.
Prior to the cooling off of the market Standfast had looked at further machine investment, but delayed that until this year, replacing its existing XYZ TC 250 turning centres with the latest TC 400 models. “Working with materials such as Super Duplex and Inconel we needed a substantial machine and while the TC 250 machines coped well, the TC 400 has improved things considerably. The machines may look similar but the construction of the TC 400 is more substantial and their added rigidity means it can handle bigger cuts in these materials, while holding tolerances for longer, our tooling consumption has also reduced.”
Behind this performance is the XYZ TC 400 turning centre’s solid-ribbed Meehanite cast base, with hardened and ground Turcite coated box slideways combined with a 43 hp (32 kW) spindle motor with up to 3300 revs/min available, and a spindle bore of 91 mm giving a bar capacity of 78 mm. The maximum swing and turned length are both 600 mm and a maximum turned diameter capability of 400 mm, the TC 400 can handle a wide range of workpieces. This capacity is enhanced by the standard 12-station Sauter VDI 40 turret which provides the ability to load a variety of turning and boring tools. The choice of control, the Siemens 828D ShopTurn system was also important to Standfast Precision as its previous machines had used the earlier 810D control, so the functionality of the control was very familiar. Other standard features include a 300 mm hydraulic chuck, through tool coolant, automatic tool setting arm, remote electronic handwheel, hydraulic tailstock and swarf conveyor.
When Standfast Precision initially looked at turning centres from XYZ it only ordered one TC 250, within three months a second machine was being installed “We work on some tight deadlines with extremely short lead-times and having a second machine was important to have capacity available at short notice. Therefore, when it came time to upgrade to the XYZ TC 400 machines it made perfect sense to bring two in at the same time, with XYZ taking the old machines away in part exchange. “We have had a number of XYZ machines in the past and have always benefited from the cost-effectiveness of the machines. All of the XYZ machines we have bought have played a part in moving the company forward and enhanced our ability to continue to invest.”