ETG celebrates 20 years representing ChironTwenty years after setting up Chiron Werke UK Limited and selling their first Chiron FZ series machining centre, the company - now trading as the Engineering Technology Group - has sold many hundreds of Chiron machines into the UK in the ensuing years. It has been 20 years that have seen ground breaking moves forward in machine designs, computerised technology and control, turnkey and automation capabilities as the industry in general has developed and Chiron in particular has pioneered new developments and machining concepts. Machining centres and turnkey solutions “Made by Chiron” are the now world’s first choice across a spectrum of metalworking industries in small, medium and large-sized engineering and manufacturing environments. Areas where Chiron has developed unsurpassed capabilities are its high speed tool changing systems with tool-to-tool times of 0.5 seconds and the development of linear motor based high speed axis travels combined with accuracy, stability and reliability. These qualities make Chiron machine tools well suited to high volume applications, automated cells and turn-key installations where maximum productivity is a primary consideration. Today the Chiron range of vertical machining centres offer exceptional productivity and a wide choice of 5 axis options including swivel head and two axis rotary table options. However, in the early days of Chiron Werke in the UK, performance standards were more modest yet, for the period, still impressive. Ian Howlett, now Operations Commercial Director at ETG, joined the fledgling company as Service Manager a few months after founder Paul Rhodes established the business and he recalls the very first installation.
“We sold a FZ 28L into Longclose Engineering in Leeds soon followed by an FZ 22W machine to O.L.D. Engineering in Hinckley – a machine they still use to this day. Automotive was the predominant sector for Chiron – between 80 and 90% of sales were into the sector - but over the years this has broadened considerably.”The UK Chiron Werke business was originally established in Wellesbourne near Stratford, followed by a move to Leamington Spa and finally into purpose built premises in Southam, Warwickshire which are now ETG’s headquarters and home to the Permanent Trade Show demonstration facility. Ironically, ETG has returned to its roots in Wellesbourne in the past 18 months, opening its Operations Division in premises adjacent to the former airfield and from where its machine PDI work, turnkey engineering, service and spares operations are located.
“Speed is perhaps the area that has moved on the most”, Ian Howlett explains. “Spindle speeds of 30-40,000 rpm are commonplace these days while 20 years ago 10,000 rpm was considered top end. Chiron’s FZ range of 20 years ago comprised three primary models – a ‘standard’, a long bed and a pallet machine but today the Chiron range has expanded massively to cover virtually every machining application - stand alone, automated or turnkey. “Innovation has been at the core of Chiron’s success and looking where ETG is today as a leading machine tool and engineering systems supplier, the role Chiron has played in that in process should not be underestimated.”