An inside view of two precision engineering operations in South Australia provides a valuable insight into the approaches that skilled engineering shops are taking to achieve internationally competitive prices proding high-precision, quality components.

Kennewell CNC Machining

Based in Murray Bridge, 76kms east of Adelaide, Kennewell CNC Machining is a precision engineering company that has successfully launched a project supported by the Government of South Australia’s Regional Development Fund, integrating a Fanuc Robot with an Okuma Genos M560V vertical machining centre, and also purchasing an Okuma LB3000EX-II-MYWx800 multi-axis CNC lathe with OSP-P300L Control.

Established in 1995, Kennewell had already been an important Okuma customer for many years. The company’s Managing Director Brett Kennewell had served his apprenticeship on Okuma machines more than 25 years ago.

“The Okuma machines are robustly built for stability and precision – as an example our 11 year-old machine, is still operating and is as accurate today as it was on installation,” says Brett. “Okuma personnel do everything they can to assist us with technical advice and support which is readily available locally and remotely. The ongoing training is a key factor in the relationship with this partner as we strive to make use of every technological feature within the Okuma machines,” he said.

The Development Grant is allowing the company to push towards full automation, with the use of multi-axis precision machines coupled with robotics to allow the operation to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, along with communication monitoring from anywhere via the internet. Okuma has also been providing intensive on-going training in API software and additional apps, in a strong partnership relationship that provides peace of mind.

“The most recently commissioned Okuma machine provides spindle speeds almost double that of current machines with Hi Cut Pro accuracy and a controller jam-packed with features,” Brett explains. “Anti-vibration technology eliminates harmonic problems resulting in longer tool life and improved surface finish.

“Customer demands on some products have required us to double our output without jeopardising the quality, and at the same time retain a competitive advantage against international competition. This latest investment is enabling us to retain production within Australia rather than it being redirected overseas.”

To inspire members of the Kennewell machining team, Brett sent three of his personnel to the USA to attend the Okuma 2017 Winter Showcase for Training and Information, where the very latest technology was on show. The three were also privileged to see this technology in operation in a real-world environment, during conducted tours of some of the most advanced engineering shops in the USA. The tour opened their eyes to the use of advanced CNC machines to the maximum of their capacity and utilising all of the Okuma technology.

Since their return from Okuma America, the company has been pushing further advancements in automation. Brett sees collaborative robots, upgraded machine tools and bar feeders and metrology to enhance and increase productivity.

The market for this enterprising company is Australia-wide with indirect export sales via customers. Its diverse range of products and components include intricate clinical devices, components for agricultural, mining and defence machinery, and motorsport components.

“It is my view that the Australian economy will be buoyed by the introduction of advanced technology and investment, creating exciting career opportunities for young people in manufacturing, design and development,” says Brett. “We are privileged to own Okuma machines and we know that the machine itself is never the limit as we move to operate these to the maximum of their capacity with the use of advanced technology, tooling and advanced communications.”

NYLASTEX Engineering Solutions

Operating from its modern 2,000sqm facility at Edwardstown, in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, NYLASTEX Engineering Solutions is a South Australian manufacturing business that produces plastic injection moulds, manufactures special purpose-built equipment, and conducts precision machining services and fabrication of complex metal and non-metal products for their clients. The company’s products are manufactured by Nylastex for a diverse range of industries, including key companies in the mining, defence, construction, agricultural and renewable energy sectors.

Nylastex has been in business for 27 years under its current owners Geoff and Winnie Philips, and has built a reputation for innovative thinking and consistently high-quality machining processes. These qualities have allowed Nylastex to retain and build its customer base and diversify away from the automotive industry over the last decade. This diversification, coupled with capabilities such as laser scanning and 3D design, high-tech machinery and skilled qualified personnel, provide Nylastex with the capability to complete projects from concept to final commissioning, followed by after-sales service. The company has ISO 9001:2015 accreditation, along with a NATA accredited laboratory for metrology and calibration operating from the same premises.

Nylastex has had a strong relationship with Okuma that spans more than eight years. The company has invested heavily in high-end manufacturing equipment, with the latest acquisition being the Okuma LB3000EX-II-BMYC multi-axis CNC lathe with OSP-P300L Control, complete with a full-length bar feeder and product unloader.

The new machine complements two other similarly optioned machines but has additional features including ECO suite energy saving functionality. The combination of the three machines positioned within close proximity to each other can provide 50% more capacity, while it may have just one operator at times.

Nylastex now has a total of six Okuma CNC machines within its facility, capable of machining components up to 400mm in diameter by 2,000mm long on CNC lathes, and 1,000mm with 500mm of travel on CNC mills with an integrated fourth axis. Okuma was selected because of its performance, consistent stability, service, technical support and training, all available from its Adelaide office.

“With improved tool change features, the machines are ideally suited for both short and long production runs and our production can also cater for both large and small customers” says Geoff Philips. “Our machine operators get great job satisfaction from producing high-quality precision components on these excellent machines.”

There is an air of confidence going into the future for this quality precision machining company with long term contracts and customers experiencing strong growth.