Steve and David Walker are the fourth family generation to own and run Morris Brothers.
Based in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent the firm was established over 70 years ago by Fred and Harry Morris as a haulage business, but quickly switched to engineering. Today, it specialises in the design and production of tooling and equipment for precast concrete manufacturers.
“We specialise in concrete presses, dies and moulds,” says Steve Walker. “Our portfolio is as diverse as our customers, and we export worldwide.” The team has grown to over 20 in recent years and always includes a couple of apprentices on-site. One employee who began as a teenage apprentice has just celebrated his 65th birthday. “We treat them as our own,” adds director Alan Walker. “They are our extended family.”
Alan explains that the late Graham Morris, who passed ownership of the business onto Steve and David, was very proud of how his grandsons continue to drive Morris Brothers forward. “It all comes down to hard work. They constantly have one eye on the new technology available, and when they see something which would benefit the company, they are not afraid to invest.”
Graham, along with Steve and David, purchased the company’s first Haas, a VF-4 vertical machining centre. “We viewed a few different machines, but we liked the approach of the Haas salesman, and the machines were better value for money. We still run the VF-4 daily, usually machining bores. We recently tested the circular interpolation, and it was within 9µm. We wouldn’t be without it.”
Since then, Morris Brothers has purchased a Haas machine every 18 months, taking the total up to ten, including two ST-30 lathes and a large frame VF-6 50 taper vertical machining centre.
“The Haas machines work for us,” Steve explains. “We don’t have to put in a big foundation when they’re installed and the coolant and swarf are contained within the machine which makes the shopfloor safer.
“The speeds are excellent; we’re making products three times faster than we used to, which has had a huge impact on the business. We don’t keep stock anymore because we can make a whole slab plate in one day. We have the materials on-site, but we can make to order now, so we know we’re producing only what our customers need.
“Accessories have also become important to daily working practices. We use the fourth axis for multiple operations which means a reduction in set-up times. The bar feeders we have on the lathes have increased production time by 50%.”
Morris Brothers’ latest investment is a VM-3 vertical mould making machine with a 12,000rpm direct-drive spindle, 30+1 capacity side mount tool changer and high-speed machining option for greater accuracy.
“We take advantage of the fact that the operators can go from one machine to another without the need for additional training,” Steve Morris concludes. “The new machine has a next generation control, which is easy to pick up. The side mount tool changer is faster than any we’ve seen and the tools are kept out of the way so they don’t get swarf on them. We like the way Haas is always looking to innovate; we share the same ethos; it’s why we keep coming back.”