A Teesside firm has created a unique miniature of the Transporter Bridge to show case its new £125,000 investment – a rare piece of machining technology accurate to less than half the width of a human hair.
A stunning 12 inch aluminium model of Teesside’s Transporter Bridge has been produced by Stockton Machine Company as a testament to the technical ability of the firm’s new Quaser simultaneous five-axis machining centre and its highly skilled operators.
And the Billingham business has also produced a spell-binding video – viewable here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxvrfGMziss – that shows the machine transforming the lump of aluminium into a shining silver model of Teesside’s iconic landmark.
Describing it as a “game changer” for his business, managing director Mark Smith (pictured above) says SMC are already seeing the benefits of their new hi-tech appliance which is believed to be the only one of its kind within Teesside’s competitive sub-contract market.
The famous bridge was the obvious choice when Mark wanted to show potential customers just what their new investment was capable of producing.
Photographs of the bridge were input into SMC’s computer aided design software to produce a CAD model, from which the scale model was faithfully produced over a two-week period.
Mark said: “We naturally wanted something that would challenge the machine and, as a proud Teessider, I wanted it to be something iconic for the area. What better landmark than the Transporter Bridge?
“I think the finished model is great, I love it. I’m pretty sure people will also say ‘Wow’ when they watch the video of it being made too. To see the machine in full five-axis action is something to behold.”
With a further £6,000 spent on computer aided machining (CAM) software, Mark is confident the state-of-the-art technology puts them ahead of rival firms as they seek to win new customers within their traditional customer base of the food processing, oil and gas, and offshore renewables sectors – and make a breakthrough into the automotive and aerospace industries.
Mark decided it was time to invest in the future after the 45-year-old firm was hit by the ongoing downturn within the oil and gas industry.
He said: “The market remains challenging but I’m very confident this extraordinary machine will prove a very wise investment. It has, in many ways, revolutionised our business. It’s a game-changer.
“We’re now able to take on jobs with highly complex machining requirements that we wouldn’t have previously considered. We are a one-stop shop, whether you need us to make a basic washer or a five-axis machined impeller.”
Mark says the Quaser machine has created a buzz among clients and staff alike.
“One of the biggest driving factors for me was that I wanted SMC to stand out from the crowd within a highly competitive market. We believe it to be the only simultaneous 5-axis machine in the sub-contract environment across Teesside, so it’s most definitely meeting that objective.
“Some of our staff – experienced engineers who’ve been doing this work for 35 years – are in awe of the machine. It’s very, very clever. At the same time, it’s incredibly accurate, as good as anything on the market.
“One customer said ‘You know, I could watch it all day!’ While customers get excited about the technology, it’s the commercial side that excites me because we’re now doing four or six parts an hour instead of one.
“Inside our modest building we’ve now got some impressive kit and a lot of experience. We want potential customers to come and take a look at this technology and see the engineering DNA that we’ve got coursing through our veins.”