Steel City Certified

When a prominent, Sheffield-based precision engineering company needed to replace a faltering laser processing machine, it turned to Yamazaki Mazak to maintain the high standards synonymous with the Steel City.

“In nearly 40 years of business, there aren’t many industries we’ve not worked with,” says Simon Pepper, Sales & Business Development Manager at JSR Precision Engineers Ltd. (JSR).  “We have an exceptionally diverse customer base which reflects the company’s versatility and flexibility, and ability to provide services and precision parts across a wide spectrum of industries, including, among others, the construction, automotive, nuclear, medical and railway sectors.”

Founded in 1981 as a family-run business, JSR offers subcontract sheet metal work, machining, laser cutting and part manufacturing services, supplying everything from one-offs to small batches and high volumes from two sites in Sheffield. The company has grown considerably since its establishment, forging an enviable reputation in the steel and engineering industry through continued investment in the latest laser cutting, CNC milling and turning technology.

JSR’s continued success saw it become a limited company in 2006 and gain ISO 9001 accreditation in 2008. It now employs 20 members of staff and enjoys a turnover of over £2 million per annum, with its dedication to quality and efficiency meaning the business has retained its ISO standard since it was first awarded. JSR is also a proud, accredited license holder of the ‘Made in Sheffield’ trademark – an internationally famous mark of quality for manufactured products.

“As a company, we pride ourselves on putting quality and customer satisfaction at the forefront of everything we do,” explains Simon. “We’ve grown year-on-year through continued investment in training and equipment, and now operate over 30 machines on our premises. This includes milling, drilling and turning centres, as well as sawing and laser cutting equipment.”

With the company priding itself on its ability to exceed industry standards of performance and excellence across its operations, it was keen to avoid any situation where it would need to outsource services from external suppliers. This ethos was put under strain with new success, as JSR began to supply increasing quantities of components to the agricultural market. As this work grew to become a major part of the business’s overall income, so too did JSR’s reliance on subcontracting its laser cutting work out to other suppliers.

Simon continues: “Our rapid success in the agricultural sector meant we were continuously purchasing parts to fulfill our order book, to the extent that it became clear investing in our own laser would be a much more cost-effective course of action. This also gave us the added benefit of being able to reduce lead times and costs for our customers, as we no longer had to rely on third-party sources.”

When JSR’s customers discovered the company had invested in laser technology, the orders rapidly started to increase. Yet though enquiries for laser cutting work grew even further, when JSR’s original machine began to falter, it risked undermining the reputation the company had worked so hard to build.

“While purchasing our first laser was originally seen as a way to streamline our processes, it soon developed into the company establishing a separate, rapidly expanding laser cutting division,” explains Simon. “Servicing the increasing demands of our agricultural customers meant this aspect of the business became even more vital, so when our laser experienced a number of faults that put its reliability in doubt, it was a serious concern. We therefore decided the best course of action would be to cut our losses, sell it, and replace it with a machine we could trust implicitly.”

The fact the existing laser was vital to JSR’s operations meant the company needed to source the best possible machinery when deciding on its replacement. Having previously purchased two Yamazaki Mazak VTC 20-C CNC turning centres and another FJV-25 machining centre, the team at JSR were well aware of the machine tool supplier’s reputation for providing reliable, high-quality solutions.

Specifically, the team had noticed that Mazak’s OPTIPLEX NEXUS 3015 FIBER laser processing solution during a visit to Mazak’s European Technology Centre in Worcester. As this model was similar in specification to the company’s existing laser, it would be ideal for machining JSR’s products.

The latest machine in its series, the OPTIPLEX NEXUS 3015 FIBER uses flying optics and a helical rack and pinion positioning system that allows for high cutting speeds, maximum throughput and rugged construction. Its flexible design also allows for stable cutting of highly reflective materials such as copper, brass and aluminum, and higher productivity when cutting thin-to-medium-thickness material, which proved beneficial to JSR.

 “Not only did the new machine seamlessly replace our old laser with no compromise in quality, the increased reliability of the OPTIPLEX NEXUS meant there was less downtime than the previous model,” says Simon. “This combined with the faster cutting times, means we can fulfil complex orders even quicker, allowing the business to grow further.”

One such example of a difficult project made easier by the OPTIPLEX NEXUS’ innovative design was a recent enquiry for 1500 mild steel parts, made up of 190 drawings of components ranging in thickness from 5mm to 20mm. Utilising JSR’s programming software to record off-cuts that could be repurposed, the OPTIPLEX NEXUS was able to quickly machine parts while keeping waste material to a minimum. As a result, the customer was able to save money while enjoying highly precise processing work and a lead time of only three days from initial enquiry to order delivery.

Simon concludes: “The innovative design of the new laser processing machine means it has fitted seamlessly into our existing operations and become an integral part in a highly important and continually expanding part of the business. Next year is our 40th anniversary, and will be very important to us. Yet with the support of well-designed Mazak machinery such as the OPTIPLEX NEXUS, we are confident that the company can maintain a level of success befitting this anniversary.”

Alan Mucklow, Managing Director UK & Ireland Sales & Service Division at Yamazaki Mazak, adds: “We pride ourselves on the precision and reliability of our machinery, and are flattered that JSR Precision Engineers, a company with a reputation for high-quality work, share this opinion.

“The flexibility and productivity offered by the OPTIPLEX NEXUS speaks for itself, and we are confident it can continue to assist the company in its mission to reduce lead time and costs, while maintaining a competitive edge in an increasingly demanding marketplace.”