On the right track with ITC

Featured Manufacturing

When Warrington-based Jones Nuttall undertook a review of the overall service and support from its supply chain partners, cutting tool vendors were under the microscope. This forensic review based on a multitude of factors opened the door to the perfect supply chain solution – UK cutting tool manufacturer, Industrial Tooling Corporation (ITC).

Located in the North-West, Jones Nuttall is a prestigious subcontract manufacturer with more than 60 employees that supply more than 30,000 different components to over 250 clients every year. This client list includes recognised names such as the London Underground, Network Rail, the Linde Group, ScotRail, Bombardier and countless others in the rail, energy, petrochemical, MOD and oil and gas sectors. The machine shop is very versatile with over 12 up to date CNC Hurco milling machines with capabilities ranging up to a bed size of 3200 x 2100 and 8 CNC lathes including Mazak, Hurco and Cincinnati it was a challenging to convert all the machines over to ITC. However, one issue that appeared in the supply chain was its cutting tool supply.

Producing everything from 1-offs and small batches up to runs of 1000+ from a diverse range of materials, the company utilises everything from solid carbide and indexable tools for turning, milling, drilling and threading. When the company was witnessing indifferent service from its regular vendors, a situation created from staff changeovers, and extended product supply lead-times from overseas – the company turned to UK manufacturer ITC.

Supporting Jones Nuttall with a new, consistent and industry-recognised supplier, ITC Technical Sales Engineer, Chris Fairbrother says: “We understood the issues faced by Jones Nuttall and introduced ITC product ranges. To emphasise the quality and productivity of the ITC tools, we first manufactured special form tools for hydraulic components used in the fluid control industry. With supply chain issues from its previous vendor on special tools, we demonstrated our expertise by understanding the requirements of Jones Nuttall, providing technical support and then manufacturing special tools with a rapid turnaround time. The tools performed exceptionally well, and this laid a foundation of trust and confidence in the ITC brand.”

With the relationship rapidly blossoming, Jones Nuttall incrementally introduced more ITC solid carbide end mills and drills to its shop floor with impressive results. As ITC’s Chris Fairbrother adds: “Initially, the performance of the ITC solid carbide end mills reduced tooling costs by more than 20% at Jones Nuttall. Reaching beyond the reduced tooling costs, we also demonstrated impressive productivity gains. This has been achieved in many instances by introducing the BIG KAISER back-ends to drastically improve rigidity, stability and runout. By combining the Widia VariMill Xtreme end mills and BIG KAISER back-ends that are both available in the UK from ITC, we have delivered some exceptional results.”

With such impressive results, ITC has now installed a vending machine at Jones Nuttall and the extremely diverse range of ITC, Widia, BIG KAISER, BASS and Kemmler products are all suppliers to the subcontract manufacturer.

ITC initially proved its value to both Jones Nuttall and the machinists on the shop floor when trialling tools on clevis connector components for the rail industry. The company machines over 1000 clevis components from EN8 steel each month on its large bed Hurco machining centre, so the potential benefits would be significant. With a cycle time of 30 minutes per part, ITC’s Chris Fairbrother initially introduced the Widia VariMill Xtreme solid carbide end mill for machining an 18mm wide slot. By combining the Widia VariMill Xtreme and BIG KAISER back-ends, the 45mm deep slot was machined in four passes with a DOC of 11.25mm at 175m/min spindle speed and 0.06mm feed per tooth. Producing two slots per part, the Widia VariMill Xtreme extended tool life from 40 parts to 120 parts whilst slashing cycle times from 30 minutes to 12 minutes.

After seeing the significant productivity gains achieved, unbelievable tool life and high material removal rates, ITC was invited to trial the Widia Varimill Xtreme on a clamping screw component. Once again, the results proved impressive with the cycle time reducing from 5 minutes to 30 seconds. This set an impressive precedent, but the ITC engineer could see the potential to go further.

Impressed by the results achieved, Chris was given the opportunity to continue his trials on the clevis parts. With a discount and special offer on the Widia TopCut 4 indexable drilling line, the Widia TopCut 4 was trialled successfully and later fully implemented on the longstanding clevis components. Moving from carbide-tipped HSS drills to the Widia TopCut 4, Jones Nuttall once again witnessed improved process reliability, productivity and cost reductions. Drilling to a depth of cut of 44mm with a 20mm diameter Widia TopCut 4, the cycle time was reduced from 1 minute to just 8 seconds.

The next step was the introduction of the Widia M200 indexable button end mill for facing the surfaces of the clevis part and undertaking the majority of roughing operations. Previously, Jones Nuttall were applying a 100mm diameter indexable tool with 8 inserts from a competitor. Switching to the Widia M200 80mm diameter button end mill with six double-sided inserts, the results were once again a paradigm shift for the customer.

The high-performance Widia M200 indexable button end mill from ITC was applied to the machining of a 4mm step that was previously processed with four 1mm passes. The ITC engineer doubled the depth of cut to 2mm and simultaneously increased the feed rate – taking an additional four minutes off the existing cycle time. However, the benefits are far-reaching with prolonged tool life and reduced insert consumption combined to reduce costs for the customer. The long-running clevis component has been one of many major successes that ITC has delivered to Jones Nuttall. The customer has now reduced cycle time from 30 to 7 minutes – a significant achievement considering the 1000+ components required each month.