Nacom Automation sees business grow thanks to machining investment strategy
Nacom Automation Ltd and its range of Flexopress printers rose from the ashes of liquidation when current owner Nick Cadby, who was a creditor to the original owner of the printing machine business, realised the only way to get his money back was to buy the intellectual property and turn the businesses around. Part of that turnaround was adopting in-house machining in partnership with XYZ Machine Tools.
Nacom and Flexopress are complimentary, with Nacom designing and developing industrial automation control systems that are integral to the Flexographic printers where Flexopress is a world-leader in design, build and installation of Flexographic printing systems. These printers are used across many industries to deliver reliable production of uniqueprinted packaging solutions found in high volume consumer applications. Flexopress machines are designed and built to order meaning parts must be designed and manufactured quickly, but the company’s reliance on sub-contract machining was causing unnecessary delays. The solution was to bring machining in-house, a daunting task given Nick Cadby’s limited machining experience. The solution to the problem was the XYZ ProtoTRAK machine tool control system.
“It was while visiting another business run by a friend of mine that I saw an XYZ 2-OP machine and my curiosity was aroused,” says Nick Cadby. “The compact nature of the machine was perfect for our situation, so I gathered up a few drawings, visited XYZ Machine Tools’ showroom and asked the question… how hard can it be to make these? The answers highlighted just how easy it was with the XYZ ProtoTRAK control, which seamlessly fills the gap between an experienced CNC programmer and someone with basic machining skills like myself.” With that reassurance the XYZ 2-OP portable vertical machining centre became Nacom’s first step along the road to self-sufficiency. It was quickly followed by an XYZ SMX 5000 bed mill, then and XYZ SLX 355 ProTURN lathe and an XYZ LPM vertical machining centre, with the common thread that all were controlled by a version of the ProtoTRAK control. The mix of machines from the 2-OP with its eight-position toolchanger and 457 x 381 mm table size and the XYZ LPM vertical machining centre through to the largest bed mill in the XYZ range with 1524 mm of X-axis travel, provides Nacom with the milling capacity to handle any parts required for its own production. Similarly, the capacity of the ProTURN lathe with its 360 mm swing over the bed and 1000 mm between centres provides fast and efficient turning capacity. As a relatively small business the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to customer demand means that Nacom can compete against competitors much larger than itself.
“Between myself, my son Alex and two skilled operators, we machine virtually every part needed for the Flexographic presses we manufacture. The XYZ machines are making a big difference to the service we provide to our customers from around the world, who can call on us for one-off spare parts or as part of new-build machines at short notice. Therefore, having control from design through manufacture and installation makes us totally self-sufficient and the XYZ machines are a major part of that package. Eliminating the reliance on sub-contract cuts lead times by at least 50 per cent and we are in total control of costs and quality.”
While the increased efficiency in producing its own components was justification enough for making this investment in the machines from XYZ Machine Tools, an unexpected benefit was the fact that Nacom is now picking up sub-contract work as word spreads about its new capability. So much so that a further machine, this time an XYZ CT52 turning centre has recently arrived to bolster the company’s turning capability. This is a new direction for Nick and his team, as the XYZ CT52 turning centre is the first non-ProtoTRAK controlled machine in Nacom’s machining portfolio, with the XYZ CT52 featuring the Siemens 828D ShopTurn conversational control.