Ceratizit helps precision subcontractor transform its machining processes

(L-R) Chris Barnes, apprentice mentor, SRD Engineering with Ceratizit’s Nev Frisby and apprentice of the year Adam Leadbeater
(L-R) Chris Barnes, apprentice mentor, SRD Engineering with Ceratizit’s Nev Frisby and apprentice of the year Adam Leadbeater

A family business that prides itself on a personal touch with customers, SRD Engineering is a precision subcontract engineering company based in Bicester, Oxfordshire, which specialises in manufacturing automotive parts.

Servicing highly competitive industries such as Formula 1 and motorsport, SRD is renowned for its fast turnaround for parts. Having been in business for over three decades, it has grown into a modern company with over 150 employees. In the past six months, the business has enjoyed meteorically impressive levels of growth. 

However, even companies who are at the forefront of their industries need to keep up to date in order to stay competitive. This was certainly true for SRD. For many years the business has relied on tried and tested machining techniques to provide the excellent service it is known for. Though, with a recent higher demand for products and a need to fulfil more orders at a quicker rate, the company turned to Ceratizit for help.

Working with Nev Frisby, a technical sales engineer at Ceratizit, SRD they examined its machining processes, inserts and tools and outlined some areas where improvements could be implemented.

Firstly, the management team at SRD was invited to a training day at Ceratizit’s Tech Centre in Sheffield. Led by Shaun Thornton, technical manager for Ceratizit UK & Ireland, SRD learned about the most up to date tooling and machining practices, as well as being given the chance to put these tools and materials to the test in the workshop downstairs.

Back in the workshop, Nev Frisby set up a tooling ‘swap out’ where new inserts could be trialled for suitability. It wasn’t long before SRD began to achieve some impressive results.

In some instances, time savings of 30-40% on roughing cycles were achieved, meaning that part production significantly increased. For SRD, tool life has also been enhanced through the use of Ceratizit inserts – specifically from the EcoCut range – now being used extensively throughout its workshop.

The wide selection of tooling and inserts available in Ceratizit’s extensive catalogue also meant that SRD were able to find the appropriate tools for each job. The effective lines of communication between Ceratizit and SRD meant that technical support was always on hand. Furthermore, Nev Frisby’s regular visits, supported by Drew Pettifar, an application sales engineer at Ceratizit, allowed the pair to get intimately acquainted with SRD’s machines and machining needs, ensuring that whatever they recommended would be sure to make a positive impact.

The professional relationship between Ceratizit and its customers is built on trust and mutual respect. SRD’s managing director, Paul Bonham elaborates: “Nev’s input has enabled us to make significant improvements across our machining and production processes. It’s a very professional relationship: he doesn’t just sell tooling; he recommends products that he is confident will be beneficial for us. The technical support we receive from both Nev and Drew is excellent.”

Jack Wignall, business development manager at SRD concurs: “Working with Ceratizit reminds us that there is always room for improvement in engineering no matter how efficient you think your processes are. Continuous improvement here at SRD is integral to our growth and key to that philosophy is working with the right suppliers – like Ceratizit – who will always be challenging how we do things with a view to helping us become more productive and ultimately more profitable.”

SRD’s approach to futureproofing the business extends beyond its operational processes – it also invests in its apprentices – ensuring they have all they need to succeed in terms of support and training. 

A shining example is Adam Leadbeater who recently won an Apprentice of the Year award – no mean feat considering this was a national competition spanning the length and breadth of the country. Mr Leadbeater completed his apprenticeship at SRD and chose to stay on at the company once he qualified.

“The support and encouragement I receive from the company – both now and during my apprenticeship – is fantastic,” he enthuses. “Many companies don’t allow apprentices to take time out of their working day to complete coursework – but that’s certainly not the case here. It’s such a positive place to be, and I learn something every day.”

“We value our apprentices immensely – fundamentally they are our future,” adds SRD’s training mentor Chris Barnes. “They’re eager to learn, work hard and are a real asset to the business.”

Ceratizit UK & Ireland

SRD Engineering

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