Major tool room investment for housewares specialist
Bakeware is big business and keeping up with the demand for new products and designs has resulted in a significant investment in three Quaser VMC machining centres in the tool room of the UK’s leading producer.
Padiham, Lancashire based What More UK Limited is brand and market leader in the UK with its ‘Wham’ branded plastic housewares, gardening and storage ranges.
Its portfolio includes a rapidly expanding bakeware division with the highly popular ‘Wham’, ‘WhamCook’ and the recently acquired ‘PushPan’ ranges; their individual popularity fuelled by the phenomenal success of TV’s ‘The Great British Bake Off’ programme.
From its custom-built factory near Accrington, What More exports to some 70 countries around the world, designing and manufacturing a vast array of products including cake and loaf tins, oven trays, purpose designed products such as muffin and Yorkshire pudding trays and many more. There has also been a clamour for products reflecting the ideas of celebrity chefs and baking experts which necessitates bespoke designs and shapes.
It is a fast-moving consumables market and as such What More needs to act quickly when responding to trends and new product introductions – hence the major investment in its in-house toolroom.
Three new machine tools have been purchased in recent times – all Quaser machines supplied by the Wellesbourne based Engineering Technology Group (ETG) and offering significant capability and capacity.
Two machines are Quaser MV 234, 3 axis VMC’s - to date the largest capacity Quaser VMC’s available in the UK.
With an X-axis travel of 2,040 mm, the 234 has an overall table dimension of 2210 x 762 mm. The table has a load capacity of 2000 kg with a Y-axis travel of 762 mm and Z-axis of 661 mm. The MV 234 also features the Quaser spindle greasing system that in one installation can support 30,000 hours of machining and can also be replenished via an integral reservoir.
Controls on the two What More machines are Heidenhain iTNC 530’s, while ATC tool magazine capacities are 48 tool BT 40 with through-coolant standard at 20 bar. Both machines are equipped with Blum spindle and table probes.
The smaller 184 VMC is equally impressively specified. It offers a table size of 1200 x 600 but still has a 12,000prm spindle speed and the high pressure coolant and spindle greasing features. The MV184 also has an iTNC530 control, has 30 tools and Renishaw spindle and laser table probes along with a Lehman rotary table.
It is an ideal complement to the 234 for smaller press tool machining.
Press shop manager Kevin Allum has a lifetime of experience in this sector of the housewares industry and it was on his recommendation that What More purchased the Quaser machines.
”I’m a die-hard Bridgeport man and installed the first tape controlled CNC machine in our predecessors tool room as long ago as 1982,” Kevin recalls.
“However I needed the bed size on offer with the 234’s and once ETG had convinced me of the excellent Quaser build quality and their many features, I had no hesitation in recommending to the owner that these were the machines to purchase.”
The extensive machine working range comes into its own when manufacturing large progression tools. These feature multiple, identical impressions of the trays or tins which are pressed from .6 gauge pre-coated steel – the coating being the non-stick Teflon protection. Material is supplied in sheet or coil format depending on the press specification.
“It is not untypical for a tool to take 600 man hours to machine so obviously if we can achieve reductions in this, it improves productivity, reduces costs and contributes to the speed with which we can bring products to market,” Kevin explains. “With the Quaser’s respective capacities, intervention in the machining programmes is therefore kept to a minimum.
“While our own designs predominate under the ‘Wham’ housewares brand we also do third party work. This can involve products with different shapes or signatures so once we have the designs and specifications we can reverse engineer to achieve manufacture in the most efficient way. Our designers use Solid Works and VISI for the CAM element and they interface well with the Heidenhain machine controls.
“The toolroom is an integral part of our operations at What More and the team is involved from the very outset creating prototype and proving-out tools through to the final production tooling,” adds Kevin Allum. “We like to be as self-sufficient as possible as it ensures fast and positive responses and of course on-site availability for maintenance and tool repairs.
“The Quaser’s have become the bedrock of the machining operations and we have been impressed with their performance and the support from ETG since the installation.”