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More capacity, higher productivity: Why precision engineering firm couldn’t live in a world without ZOLLER

Benham Precision Engineering discovers the benefits of tool pre-setting. 

When you’re working around the clock to meet customer demand in safety-critical industries, you can barely afford to waste a single minute of the day.

Benham Precision Engineering has been a leading supplier of complex components and sub-assemblies to the aerospace and defence sectors for many years, operating 22 machine tools to create a range of parts such as manifolds, bodies, castings and casings, each to exacting standards.

Based across two sites in Southampton, the company’s ethos has always been one of constant improvement in terms of its technology, people and processes, particularly when it comes to driving efficiency.

That dedication to being the best of the best has helped to steer the business’s continued success, and played a major role in the decision to invest in a ZOLLER tool pre-setting solution that continues to work seamlessly and help maximise Benham’s productivity, more than a decade after the Smile 600 machine was first installed.

Benham’s Engineering Manager Neil Griggs said: “We’ve got some 76-tool change machines in our factory. It was taking us up to three hours to find the tools, put them in the machine and measure them. That’s dead time.

“We’ve had the ZOLLER for about 12 years. We wanted to reduce cycle times on the shop floor – we’ve got a tool setter that builds the tools from our set-up sheet, he then puts them onto the ZOLLER and measures the lengths, diameters and so on.

“All the information is stored on the back of the chip and that is then put to the machine. Consequently, what that does is it saves time on initial set-up and probably reduces our set-up on long-running jobs with multiple tools by two hours.”

ZOLLER – the only company in the UK dedicated exclusively to supplying tool presetting and inspection equipment – specialises in delivering process efficiency without compromising quality, helping companies to unlock the door to sustainable and long-term profitability.

Traditional tool setting, even with advanced laser technology on a CNC machine, is unreliable as it cannot validate critical tool features such as diameters, corner radii, step lengths and run-out prior to machining, increasing the risk of costly crashes and failures.

Legacy methods are also highly inefficient. While a CNC machine is setting tools, the spindle is idle and is not doing the job that it was intended to do – making parts.

Such inefficiency is immediately eradicated by a ZOLLER offline presetting solution, which brings with it a wealth of other benefits, from increased machining capacity to quality right-first-time products and extended tool life.

Mr Griggs said: “It’s about speed and efficiency. It means we’ve got more capacity on the machines and more productivity.

“The ZOLLER basically takes out about three hours at the front where someone else has found and built the tools and measured them. So rather than finding the tools, building them, putting them into the machine and then measuring them, all of that’s done.”

ZOLLER’s best-in-class Smile range guarantees high-level accuracy and repeatability in presetting and measuring cutting tools prior to machining work, thanks to unique power-clamping spindle and auto-focus capabilities.

Manufactured exclusively from industry-leading components and boasting telecentric optics for enhanced performance alongside seamless data transfer options, the system’s robust and ergonomic design makes it suitable for use in the heart of the production environment, right beside CNC machines.

Mr Griggs added: “We’re tied in with Mazak and basically that’s how we got onto buying the ZOLLER, because it’s in Mazak’s showroom. We’ve had no reliability problems and get a service every year. We’ve had no issues with it at all.”

Today, Benham Precision Engineering simply cannot imagine life without ZOLLER, and Mr Griggs has a very clear message for any business yet to take the plunge into offline presetting due to perceived barriers such as cost, process upheaval, employee training requirements and uncertainty around return on investment.

“Do it,” he said. “You will gain the profit back within six months.

“Benham would never be without a ZOLLER because it keeps the spindle running. It’s more profitable for us.”

If you would like to hear how a Zoller machine could help make your business more profitable then book your demo with us now.


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