Over the last 12 months, significant spending on machining capabilities is helping to boost capacity in the face of growing demand and deliver its ‘glass factory’ business model.
Since being established in 1996, AE has become recognised as one of the region’s fastest-growing manufacturers. And over the last five years, the business has more than doubled productivity and seen a seven-fold increase in sales. Investment in people, plant and machinery has been integral to that growth and that ambitious spending programme will continue to help the business meet its future goals.
Following its recent move to larger premises at Network Park, Birmingham, AE has focused resources on increasing output to satisfy its growing order book. Key to that is ramping up 5-axis capacity and in the 12 months prior to February 2019, the manufacturer spent £1.25 million on six new Mazak machines.
The company acquired three Variaxis J500/5X 5-axis for complex milling and a VCN530 4-axis to double capacity on larger milled components up to 1.25m long.
The shop floor has also benefited from the addition of a VCP400 to help meet a specific export order, whilst in February the business acquired an Integrex J200 Smooth to increase its 5-axis mill/turn capacity on smaller complex components.
Dean Thomas, engineering manager at AE Aerospace commented: “By being there when we need them, the Mazak team have continued to show a commitment to our business, particularly with the standard of aftercare and service support, which has been outstanding. When there have been machine issues, Mazak have responded quickly, with both service and replacement parts support, to ensure that we have minimised downtime and got production back up and running very quickly”.
The new machines will not only help AE Aerospace continue its growth by increasing production output, but the reliable and accurate machinery will also play a pivotal role in delivering its new business model.
The manufacturer’s long-term ambition is to become a glass factory, giving customers access to a fully servitised model of machining by the hour. Customer Focused Cells are already in operation and the new machines will link to AE’s EdgeCAM CAD/CAM system. This will feed into a new Valuechain DNA SME ERP system that will give access to live data and allow customers to track their jobs at every stage of the production process.
Alan Mucklow, Managing Director, UK and Ireland Sales and Service at Yamazaki Mazak, commented, “AE Aerospace is a shining example of a major aerospace subcontractor that is willing to invest in state-of-the-art machinery to enhance its production capabilities and its competitive position. Aerospace is an extremely demanding sector requiring a combination of speed and precision that only the most advanced machining techniques can deliver.
"AE Aerospace’s continued commitment to excellence in all of their manufacturing activities is being rewarded by a premium position in the aerospace supply chain and Mazak is very proud of the close relationship that has developed between the two companies.”