Based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the family owned business of Muffett Gears is approaching its centenary year.
The company supplies gears, gearboxes, sub-assemblies and machined parts to a wide range of market sectors – many of which are technically demanding such as aerospace, medical, and hydraulics.
Currently in its third generation of family ownership, Muffett successfully combines cutting edge technology with traditional ethical business values. Product quality and exemplary levels of service are its leading priorities. A tight knit, long serving, highly experienced team comprising 40 people underpins the business and ensures high standards are maintained through ongoing training. The company operates a well-established apprenticeship scheme which guarantees the seamless flow of talent throughout the organisation.
Muffett makes regular investments in new technology – indeed in the past 12 months, a £1 million investment has seen the arrival of new CNC cylindrical grinding and milling machines on the shopfloor with further investment planned in the near future of a sliding head turning centre. The most recent acquisition however was a fully automatic Liehberr CNC gear hobber.
At nearly €500,000 the Liehberr LC280 represents a serious investment for Muffett. The machine is able to hob gears up to 5 module with a maximum diameter of 280mm or shafts up to 500mm long. The machine features a plastic chain conveyor with a storage capacity of 20-30 pieces and a maximum workpiece weight of 15kg which enables fully automatic loading.
“The Liehberr LC280 was purchased to update our capacity of product that was formally gear cut on an ageing Gleason Phoenix semi-automatic CNC gear hobber,” explains Muffett’s operations manager, Mark Jagelman. “The machine gives us more flexibility and capacity without the requirement of additional labour. The purchase of the machine has enabled us to pursue and win additional contracts – some of which involves export to both China and Japan.”
While the decision to purchase was taken back in October last year, with such a large investment Muffett had to be sure that the right machine was chosen. Having spoken to other machine tool manufactures in Germany, America and Asia, the choice was made to go with Liehberr due to the machine’s flexibility and value for money. The majority of extra tooling purchased with the Liehberr is for gear shaft hobbing, where multiple splines are required to be cut on the same shaft in a single operation.
The initial machine purchase was made through UK agent Wright Manufacturing (now a dissolved company. In the later stages of consultation and delivery, Muffett dealt directly with Liehberr in Kempten, Germany. Delivery of the LC280 was at the end of July, with training of three staff members having already taken place a week earlier in Kempton.
“The LC280 was installed within the planned time and onsite training was also given,” Mr Jagelman explains, “and additional tooling arrived soon after. We are now reaping the benefits of our investment with increased throughput and reduction in lead-times. There have been a few inevitable new machine teething problems, but these have been resolved through direct contact with Liehberr in Germany.”
Through its modular design, LC280 machines can be customised for specific applications but there are a number of core features that contribute significantly towards its high performance such as optimised base frame rigidity derived from Finite Element Method (FEM) simulation and a thermo-symmetric machine design and integrated temperature compensation for consistent high quality operation.
A flexible machine with optional automation solutions, the LC280 is ideal for gears, shafts, worm gears, cluster gears, skive/finish hobbing, special profile hobbing and wet and dry machining. It can accommodate a maximum workpiece diameter of 280mm, maximum workpiece length of 500mm and maximum workpiece weight of 15kg. Table diameter is 145mm.
Growth prospects look bright for Muffett. The company enjoyed a 30% increase in business during its last financial year with a further 10% anticipated this year – ensuring it is on track to meet its objective of hitting £10 million turnover in the next three years.
In addition to new plant and equipment, Muffett Gears is also investing in new skilled staff. A further two apprentices will be recruited this year.
Muffett Gears www.muffettgears.co.uk