Automation helps firm target ‘sticky niches’

Posted on 10 May 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Precision engineering specialist, JJ Churchill has announced the completion of a multi-million-pound investment in new technology, people and systems to serve niche areas of the aerospace market.

One of JJ Churchill's Makinos at work in its machining cell - image courtesy of JJ Churchill.
One of JJ Churchill’s Makinos at work in its machining cell – image courtesy of JJ Churchill.

JJ Churchill is reportedly focused on ‘sticky niches’ within the aerospace sector, those which require a high degree of technical and organisational skill. An aim automation is set to help realise.

The business is actively seeking work which requires highly skilled engineering in complex geometries, difficult dimensions and challenging materials – the type of project where the initial reaction is commonly, “This can’t be done”.

JJ Churchill has now added two new Makino 5-axis machining centres to its machining cell, which now comprises four Makino VIPER machines. The positions of each of machine has been carefully-considered, so that when three further Makino grinders are added, the manufacturing cell will become automated.

Robotic loading of the new machines is described as key to achieving JJ Churchill’s goal of achieving “global cost competitiveness.”

The latest investment in CNC grinding capacity, connected to advanced information-management systems, enables the machining of complex, precision componets in advanced nickel-based alloys and single crystal components.

Managing director, Andrew Churchill explained: “The work we are most interested in carrying out is always a challenge, and often one where our customers have found it difficult to find the capability.

“We like to push the boundaries of grinding, milling and turning, in the most difficult materials, geometries and dimensions, that’s why we have reorganised our factory around the Makino cell, in order to constantly achieve the high expectations which our customers require. It’s not the easiest nor the most straight-forward, but it is interesting and draws on the skills of our highly-motivated team.”

The company’s aerospace sales have increased by more than 60% in the past year, increasing in importance to the company and now contributes two-thirds of total sales.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the Nuneaton-based business had set itself the ambitious target of doubling its turnover by 2022.

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