Less is more tool vending solution for Motorsport Advanced Developments

L-R: Nigel Walls, Daniel Harper and Tony Pennington
L-R: Nigel Walls, Daniel Harper and Tony Pennington

Padiham-based Mini Sport Group has been supplying its customers with parts for the iconic classic Mini for over 50 years. Since 2005 many of these parts have been manufactured in-house by group company Motorsport Advanced Developments (MAD).

While initially MAD’s focus was purely for the Group’s own requirements, its reputation for quality grew and the business now supplies parts to a wide range of customers from sectors including automotive, chemical, aerospace, and defence with batch quantities ranging from one-off research parts through to 100,000 plus volume production. This broadening of its customer base has seen an increased demand for the latest machine tools, cutting tools and workholding and space in which to house them.

“In 2019 we broke ground on a new building that would double our available floorspace,” says Daniel Harper, MAD’s managing director. “That was completed in early 2020 and then came COVID and lockdown. From March to May 2020 things were challenging; then the mail order side of the Mini Sport business just took off and by August we back to full staff and production just kept ramping up.”

This situation was ideal as just before lockdown MAD had ordered a Mazak Variaxis i600 5-axis machine with a multi-pallet system, which is now installed alongside a Mazak QuickTurn lathe, with a further QuickTurn 250MSY on order which will bring the total to 12 Mazak machines onsite. “Over the past 18 months we will have invested over £600,000 in machine tools, in addition to the cost of the new building,” Mr Harper explains.        

In order to support this increased machining demand and capacity, MAD turned to long-term tooling partner Ceratizit UK & Ireland – a supplier it has worked with since the business began. Already a user of Ceratizit’s vending systems in the form of two Tom60 vending machines, the challenge was to supply an increased tool storage capacity without compromising floorspace.

The solution was the installation of the latest Tom840 from Ceratizit, which will replace the two existing units. The new machine has a maximum capacity of 840 tools in compartments that can be adjusted to take a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

A selection of components machined by Motorsport Advanced Developments
A selection of components machined by Motorsport Advanced Developments

“In a typical scenario, a Tom840 vendor will hold five times the number of tools compared to a Tom 60 unit in a similar amount of floorspace,” says Tony Pennington, managing director, Ceratizit UK & Ireland.

The Ceratizit TOM vending system also provides users with detailed traceability with the ability to track the distribution of every tool, from time of vend, to which operator took it, and also monitor costs. With its in-built SIM card communication, orders to replenish stock are automatically sent to the team of five dedicated vending support staff based at Ceratizit’s office in Sheffield.

Stock within the machine is then replenished by a Ceratizit tool service engineer and, once a month an invoice is raised. As the stock within the Tom840 is supplied on a consignment basis, only those tools vended are charged for. A further advantage of the consignment stock is that the user can never be left with obsolete tools; whenever an update is released, the tools are replaced. This latest vending installation brings the total number of machines in the market to 435 in total.

The Ceratizit sponsored 300hp MiniSport BMW Mini JCW-01c World Rally Car, built by ProDrive, driven by Daniel Harper
The Ceratizit sponsored 300hp MiniSport BMW Mini JCW-01c World Rally Car, built by ProDrive, driven by Daniel Harper

The improved service offered by the new Tom840 vending machine is just one part of the reason that Daniel Harper and his team at MAD have worked with Ceratizit for so many years: “We have worked with Ceratizit since 2005, in particular with Nigel Walls our local technical sales engineer, who is always on-hand to offer advice on choice of tools and even manufacturing methods.

“We are a tight-knit family company and, we like to deal with suppliers with the same philosophy as us who will pull together to make things work. In that respect Ceratizit gives us everything we need.”

Ceratizit UK & Ireland

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