Fifty years young

One of the country’s leading producers of special fasteners, Wetherby-based Vaughan Jones Socket and Screws, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in June 2011.

The company, which has been a Star sliding head lathe user for a decade and operates four CNC mill/turn centres specialises in the manufacture of bespoke aerospace fasteners. Accounting for 70% of turnover, they are supplied into some of the most prestigious aircraft programmes, mainly through a network of distributors across the UK and overseas.

Established in 1961, Vaughan Jones holds the aerospace quality management standard AS9100 and was one of the first companies in the UK – in fact the 28th – to be accredited to ISO 9001:2000 (then BS5750) back in 1979. The remainder of its business is spread across a number of industries where demanding performance is essential, such as defence (MOD AQAP4 registration is held), mining, medical, telecommunications, machine tools, tooling, motorsport and automotive engineering.

A variety of products is produced from high tensile, stainless and mild steels, nickel alloys, brass and bronze, aircraft materials, nylon and other plastics to worldwide standards and customers’ specifications, including special socket, slotted and hexagon screws, internally threaded parts, nuts and turned parts. Some of the Star lathes have high pressure coolant to cope with machining the more exotic materials.

Managing director, Jeremy Hornby, who has been with the company for over 35 years, comments: “We have always had a strong reputation for producing top quality products and providing a first rate service, underpinned by a specialist workforce of skilled craftsmen and women, all with many years’ experience in the industry.

“Our investment over the years in sliding-head, multi-axis lathes has allowed us to reduce setting times, increase production capacity and offer faster, more flexible delivery of small to medium sized batches of bespoke fasteners to our customers.”

Vaughan Jones began investing in sliding head machines in 2001 with the installation of a Star SR-20RII lathe of 20mm bar capacity, followed in 2003 by a second, identical machine. At the same time, it started replacing the one hundred or so fixed headstock cam autos and plug-board machines on the shopfloor, which were in operation 10 hours a day. The rationale was to pursue one hit machining of components, even those of complex design, in order to slash production times and be able to quote same day order turnaround.

A typical socket screw, for example, previously needed five separate operations: blank and turn roll thread diameter; face, centre and drill; broach; clear broach chips from the bottom of the socket; and thread cut or thread roll. The accumulated cycle time total was between four and eight minutes, depending on component size, and lead time from order to delivery used to be one month.

The same job is now completed in one visit to Vaughan Jones’ twin spindle, 32mm capacity Star SV-32 in a cycle time of one and a half to two minutes and additional operations such as head drilling can also be carried out in cycle. Not only is immediate turnaround of urgent orders possible, but economic batch size is also reduced and so too is the amount of work in progress on the shopfloor. Very few components need a second operation now.

Mr Hornby continues: “The other considerable benefit of using the Stars was the advent of 24/7 operation, more than doubling available hours compared with when we used manually operated autos. Moreover, a majority of productive hours on the Stars are minimally manned, so there are savings in labour costs as well.”

So confident did Vaughan Jones become in the capabilities of the Star lathes during the first few years of operation that the firm ordered the first ever SR-10J in the UK directly from the supplier’s stand at MACH 2006. Of 10mm bar capacity, the machine reflects a general trend towards smaller parts being requested by the manufacturing industry. Installation of a second such machine is now on the cards.

Star Micronics GB


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