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In conversation: Manufacturing Manager Craig Dowling and our Matsuura 5 axis machine

We’ve never been shy to invest in both the best people and machines here at Kirkstall Precision Engineering. We know that both are key to our continuing success in creating a wide range of precision parts for a wide range of machines as well as implantables for use in hip and knee replacements as well as a wide range of other sectors in gas, oil, automotive and food manufacturing.

Our manufacturing manager, Craig Dowling, oversees all production related issues from the scheduling of jobs to programming, development of new products and processes as well as customer relations, OTD targets and other measurements. We sat down with him recently to discuss all things Matsuura and the impact that the 5-axis machine has had on our business and delivering a wide range of precision engineering solutions to clients.

Let’s start with what we use the Matsuura machine for.

Craig highlighted that the initial use of the Matsuura is to give us the unmanned lights out running function of this machine, with it being multi pallet so we can really ramp up our efficiencies if required. In fact, we have already seen upturn of up to and beyond 120% efficiency returns based on scheduled monthly hours.

This is only using the machine to small capabilities of what it can actually do, with it being full 5 axis simultaneous this machine is capable of much – much more. This is reassuring to know when we look at some of the new lines of work coming in as we know what the machine is capable of and are excited to really deliver on its full capabilities.

How has the Matsuura benefitted your working day?

In its early stages the machine has given us more flexibility lightening loads from other departments especially with jobs that have relatively large batch requirements that if not kept up to could drag on and cost us in lost hours late shipments etc.

It also gives me the confidence of knowing that I can load the machine and it will run consistently for hours and the reloading will have minimum impact on my day-to-day duties. But one of the key aspects for me from the machine is repeatability, the outputted parts from pallet to pallet are almost identical dimensionally, menaing I can trust this through my inspected parts and know what quality of product I can expect each time.

What do you love about the Matsuura machine?

I’ve always been a huge fan of 5 axis (simultaneous), I find it fascinating to watch and see some pretty fantastic parts coming off. I still aspire to becoming a master of this process as I love engineering and the ability to keep bettering myself, in my role as manufacturing manager, the hidden gem of 10 a pallet loading system has been a pleasant addition and has given us so much flexibility on some of our more complex time-consuming jobs.

Any closing thoughts about the Matsuura and working at KPE?

With the Matsuura I’d, it’s safe to say that we’d happily have another one. It will help keep KPE at the forefront when it comes to precision engineering for a wide range of sectors. I’ve been at Kirkstall for over a decade and the progression the company has made is phenomenal and to be part of the continued growth is something I’m to be proud to be heavily involved in. The machines and partnership that we have with the likes of Matsuura are key to our continued success and I’m constantly impressed with the capabilities of their machines and our own skills here at Kirkstall.