True Precision

trueturn precision engineeringA continued investment in both people and machines is making Truturn Precision Engineering into the subcontractor to watch in the South West.

“We’ve grown from very humble beginnings,” says Bob Wilkins, General Manager at Truturn Precision Engineering, “and we’ve a strong strategy going forward.”

Mr Wilkins is confident about the Truturn business, in part because he has overseen significant investment in recent years that has laid the groundwork for future growth.

The company, which is based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, dates from 1985 and has capabilities in milling, turning, fabrication and electrical mechanical assembly work, employing 35 staff with 18 machinists on the shopfloor.

From being, originally, a turning business which predominantly serviced the local engineering and manufacturing community, Truturn now has major footholds in the oil and gas, nuclear, food processing and general subcontracting sectors, much of it down to a commitment to cultural change and investment which continues to pay off. In fact, circa 30% of the business is export-focused with Europe, the Far East, Canada and the United States being major markets.

“We decided three years ago that the culture of the business needed to change,” says Mr Wilkins. “We wanted to bring in some automotive skills and better management into the business, along with more training and accreditations. Essentially, we wanted to professionalise ourselves.”

Mr Wilkins has been as good as his word, with the Investors in People GOLD accreditation being quickly followed by ISO 9001, the Fit For Nuclear programme, and health and safety accreditations. The company is also currently working towards its ISO 14001 environmental accreditation.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve done with ISO 9001 in particular because, in the last three years, we’ve had zero non-conformities, which is a great achievement for our quality manager who was one of my first hires into the business.”

Mr Wilkins says that the Fit For Nuclear programme has also been important. “It modernises your business and gets you ready to take on nuclear work. It was quite a challenge for us, particularly in terms of the training investment, but we’ve got work out of it, not least with Magnox.”

The relationship with Mazak has been central to Truturn’s transformation. “We found with Mazak that they didn’t just try to sell us machines, they actually looked at the whole business and the sort of work we were doing before making any recommendations. They’ve worked with us, developing staff and our machining processes, which has enabled us to grow and move into new sectors.”

New machinery has been central to the transformation and Truturn’s decision to invest in an INTEGREX j-300 was a key turning point.

trueturn precision engineering“We knew that if we didn’t invest in new machines, we weren’t going to grow, not least because our customers were looking for us to take cost out of our processes and pass on the savings to them. I would say it was a culture shock for us when we started with it, but it has proved its worth and I would estimate that the INTEGREX j-300 has taken about 15-20% of our costs out of the products. In some instances, even more than that,” says Mr Wilkins.

He continues: “Mazak helped us develop the full potential of the machine which, in all honesty, we probably didn’t fully understand when we first accepted it into the machine shop.”

The machine has had a positive effect on morale. “I have three guys on there who know the j-300 inside out, they’ve been on the training courses and developed their own skills which is very positive for them. I also have one of our apprentices on there a lot and he loves it. MAZATROL was a learning curve for them, but now that they’ve got it they find it very beneficial.”

The INTEGREX j-300 was quickly followed by QUICK TURN NEXUS 250M. “That machine has been a revelation for us, particularly in terms of us being able to put development and prototype work on there. We’ve completed a wide variety of jobs on it, from tube through to complex blocks, but the key point is that we no longer have to complete a secondary milling operation, which means we’ve cut set-up times by 30-40%.”

For Mr Wilkins, the aftersales service he has received from Mazak has been crucial. “The service engineers in particular have been very good. They’ve come along and educated and trained our guys which means that we can do a lot of the more basic maintenance jobs very quickly on our own. Mazak also helped us from a technical standpoint, taking drawings and turning them into finished components. The level of support has been brilliant.”

Going forward, Mr Wilkins says the future for Truturn lies in 5-axis machining and potentially a specialist milling machine. “The focus for us is 5-axis now. We’ll need some support from Mazak to get there, but that is where we want to go.”