Thinking inside and outside the box.
Latest machine tool investments are an integral part of leading precision subcontractor – MNB Precision’s – innovative and progressive business strategies designed to ensure long-term growth and future prosperity.
Mills CNC, the exclusive distributor of Doosan machine tools in the UK and Ireland, has recently supplied Coventry-based precision machining specialist, MNB Precision Ltd., with two new, high-performance machine tools.
The machines, a large-capacity Doosan SMX 3100 multi-tasking mill-turn machine and a highly-popular and best-selling Doosan DNM 6700 vertical machining centre, were installed at MNB’s 36,000sq. ft. facility in May 2021. The machines’ arrival form part of a larger new technology investment package that, over the next seven months, will see MNB take ownership of four more advanced Doosan machines (two lathes, a vertical machining centre and a mill-turn machine).
By the end of the year MNB will have 20 Doosan machines at its disposal – a sizeable proportion of the company’s 55 total machine tool resource.
Investment in the latest machine tools and new technologies is custom and practice for MNB: it is in the company’s DNA.
Says Elliot Benton, Commercial Director:
“We are committed to continuous improvement and, as such, are no strangers to making strategic and prudent investments in advanced manufacturing and machining technologies.
“The sectors where we operate are ultra-competitive and the investments we make are all intended to help us improve our quality, productivity and operational efficiencies.”
Recent investment 1 – SMX 3100
The Doosan SMX 3100 is a high-productivity, multi-tasking mill-turn machine equipped with a 12” chuck and features a 30kW/4000rpm spindle, a B-axis milling spindle, a 40 tool magazine, a servo-driven tailstock, linear scales and the latest Fanuc 31iB5 control.
As part of the investment package the machine was supplied with a SLU-X4 steady rest, which in conjunction with the tailstock, enables the reliable and high-accuracy machining of long workpieces.
The SMX 3100 is the first Doosan mill-turn machine acquired by MNB but the company is no stranger to the technology itself.
Explains Elliot Benton:
“Mill-turn technology enables us to machine complex, high-precision parts in one hit. The technology can make jobs, previously considered unprofitable, a more attractive proposition and helps significantly reduce job set-up and part cycle times.
“The investment in the SMX 3100 has been made specifically to machine high-precision oil and gas (low alloy steel) plug-type components, required in large volumes, for a customer in Norway.
“The SMX 3100 is a powerful, flexible and accurate mill-turn machine. The price and performance of the machine, its reputation in the market and the fact that it is backed by Mills CNC’s after-sales service and support made the investment decision a relatively straightforward one to make.”
Recent investment 2 – DNM 6700
The DNM 6700 is a large-capacity vertical machining centre equipped with a 12,000rpm directly-coupled spindle, a 30-position ATC, roller LM guideways and thermal compensation systems, and features the latest Fanuc 0iMP control with the advanced touchscreen iHMI. To increase productivity and ensure machining flexibility the DNM 6700 was supplied with an integrated 4-/5-axis rotary table.
Says Elliot Benton:
“We invested in a Doosan DNM 5700 vertical machining centre in 2017 and can vouch for the machine’s accuracy, speed and reliability. Our latest (DNM 6700) investment provides us with a larger travels (1300mm x 670mm x 625mm) and a bigger working table (1500mm x 670mm).
“The DNM 6700 increases the machining capacity of i8 Ltd – a new, precision engineering subsidiary we created and absorbed into MNB in 2019, following the purchase of the assets of Integr8 – a local engineering subcontractor. The machine was acquired to (initially) machine complex parts for a water treatment customer.”
MNB Precision: Mills CNC partnership
MNB Precision and Mills CNC have a partnership that dates back to 2012 when it (the former) invested in its first Doosan machine – a large-capacity Puma 800XL lathe. Since then MNB has regularly invested in Doosan lathes and machining centres from Mills.
Comments Elliot Benton:
“Doosan machine tools deliver best-in-class performance. They are reliable and are competitively priced.
“In addition, the machines are sold, serviced and supported by Mills CNC who we have developed good relationships with over the years.
“The company’s technical back-up and applications support is, in our opinion, second to none and is one of the major reasons why we have continued to invest in Doosan machines.”
About MNB Precision
Established over 40 years ago MNB Precision, a family-owned business, is a leading provider of manufacturing and precision engineering services to a growing number of OEM and Tier One companies operating primarily, but not exclusively, in the oil and gas sector. (Other sectors served by MNB include power generation, rail, defence, nuclear, automotive etc.).
The company manufacturers a wide range of different-sized components. At one end of the scale these include parts you could hold in your hand whereas at the other end of the spectrum parts up to 11 metres in length and 1 metre in diameter weighing up to 8 tonnes can be accommodated.
In addition to CNC turning and milling MNB also provides other in-house machining services that includes jig boring, grinding and EDM. The company has impressive testing and inspection capabilities (located in a temperature controlled environment) and, to further differentiate itself in the market offers customers a range of secondary services that includes shot peening, NDT, magnetic particle inspection and liquid dye penetration.
In the near future MNB is considering further augmenting its services by opening up separate Materials and Surface Treatment divisions.
Oil and gas sector – imperatives
Serving and servicing the oil and gas sector for four decades has meant that the company has experienced and survived a number of industry downturns.
In response to the sector’s perennial volatility and to enable the company to have more control over its own destiny, MNB’s current leadership team has, over recent years, implemented a number of innovative and interrelated business strategies designed to improve company growth and profitability…inspire confidence (amongst customers, partners and employees alike)… and to make it better positioned to withstand the oil and gas sector’s ‘boom and bust’ cycles.
The company’s strategies are working! Sales turnover, prior to the pandemic, increased dramatically from £3.3m in 2016/17 to £20m in 2019/20 – a remarkable achievement!
Such outstanding sales success has not gone unnoticed with the company earning a number of recent and well-deserved accolades and awards.
- 2020: Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 league table of UK companies with the fastest-growing sales (MNB was placed 30th).
- 2019: Winner of Made in the UK’s ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ award for companies with a turnover under £25m.
- 2019: Winner of SME business of the Year (Lloyd’s Bank National Business Awards).
Says Elliot Benton:
“It is great to receive the recognition. Both awards are testament to the hard work and ingenuity of our staff, and to the roll-out and application of our innovative business strategies.”
‘Going for growth’ strategies
The business strategies recently introduced by MNB, across all of its operations, have been transformative and have had a positive impact on the company’s fortunes. The strategies implemented by MNB include:
- a) Adoption of a ‘Servitization’ business model.
‘Servitization’ is a way of looking at and approaching the market. In short Servitization means that companies work more closely with customers to anticipate and meet their needs in innovative ways, rather than simply manufacturing products to order.
By designing and implementing a Servitization model (achieved as a direct result of the company’s leadership team’s work with Aston University’s Advanced Services Group), MNB has successfully differentiated itself in the market, and from its competitors, and has been able to add more value to a number of its customers’ businesses and operations.
Explains Elliot Benton:
“We are making MNB and the services we provide indispensable.
“To do this we are constantly upgrading and increasing our machining and manufacturing capacity and capabilities to ensure that we are the best we can possibly be and, as a consequence, have brought (in-house) a number of previously subcontracted out specialist services (i.e. EDM, shot peening, non-destructive testing etc.), to enable us to become a ‘one-stop-shop’ total systems solutions provider.”
- b) Proactive and aggressive sales
Rather than relying almost exclusively on organic growth and on achieving/maintaining sales from its existing customers, MNB has implemented more proactive and aggressive sales strategies.
The company has recruited a more entrepreneurial and proactive salesforce charged with seeking out new opportunities at the ‘coal face’ or ‘oil well’, so to speak.
Says Elliot Benton:
“Our customers and prospects are located all over the world – for example in Norway and in the Middle East.
“As such we have focused our efforts on getting closer to customers – meeting them on their home ground where possible and feasible. We have also spent time and resources on raising our own profile and our capabilities with customers and prospects.
The intention is to build and develop long-term, mutually-profitable relationships with customers who want, expect and demand more from their suppliers.”
The natural extension of MNB’s sales strategy is to set up manufacturing operations overseas – geographically proximate to customers. Over the next few months its is anticipated that the company will set up a machine shop facility in the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).
Continues Elliott Benton:
“The KSA government has announced that it would prefer to pay 50% more for parts produced within its own borders than rely on imports. As part of our sales strategy to be ‘closer to the action’, there is a big opportunity to replicate our Coventry operation in the KSA.”
- c) Diversification
To help offset the fluctuations and volatility present in the oil and gas sector, MNB has diversified its operations.
The company’s machining and manufacturing capabilities, in addition to its materials’ knowledge and expertise and its robust manufacturing systems and processes have helped it move logically and seamlessly into other sectors i.e. the power generation, rail and defence sectors – to name but a few.
The purchase in 2019 of the assets of Integr8, a local precision engineering specialist company, and the subsequent creation of i8 Ltd. has also helped MNB develop and further expand its customer base.
MNB Precision is a company that thinks inside, and outside, the box.
Recent and future investment in advanced machine tool technologies combined with its Servitization business approach has helped, and will help, the company compete and win more work in the oil and gas sector which, independent forecasters have predicted, will bounce back strongly in the second half of 2021.
MNB’s more proactive and targeted sales strategies are driving demand for its services, and the creation of a manufacturing facility in KSA will put the company in the box seat in one of its primary markets.
The company’s move into other sectors and the recent creation of i8 Ltd., are further evidence of MNB’s forward-looking and focused business approach.
All three strategies rely on MNB having access to class-leading, high-performance machine tools which is why the company continues to invest in Doosan machines backed by Mills CNC.