Custom Machining in the Internet Age

In an industry abuzz with talk of intelligent manufacturing and Industrial IoT, Facteon takes pride in thoughtfully contributing to this conversation. We also take pride in offering innovative and high accuracy machining capabilities. Here at Facteon, we have a dedicated, in-house Machine Shop. It employs fifteen talented machinists. In addition, we have four machinists in the making – our apprentices. It’s said that machining is a dying art. The future of manufacturing is robotics, data and artificial intelligence. We embrace and shape this future at Facteon. However, this future shouldn’t and can’t come at the expense of traditional machining. Facteon's Machine Shop team operates some of the largest machines in New Zealand. The ability to produce components in-house is the ultimate exercise in quality control. As Facteon’s Manufacturing Manager, I lead this team in machining a wide variety of components.

 

Modern Day Custom Machining

The Facteon Machine Shop provides custom machining services to our internal Build Shop. The critical components of every Facteon production line are built in-house to ensure our stringent quality standards are met. The Machine Shop also caters to external customers requiring one-off, bespoke components on a tight deadline or projects of a larger scale.

To meet increasing demand, we operate two shifts per day, six days a week. This allows us to take on a variety of interesting and challenging projects. A day may involve machining components for plasma cutting machinery, producing keels and bulbs for high-class racing yachts or producing R&D components for the medical industry. The diversity of the work that enters our Machine Shop has resulted in a team with a vast skill set. This enables expert operation of complex machinery.

 

Our Machinery’s Potential

We utilise several unique machines that allow us to consistently deliver high quality components. Our manual milling machines are capable of five-axis milling and provide the flexibility of over a metre of travel. The machinery is highly adaptable and set up time is minimal. Our skilled machinists hold decades of experience operating such machines. This allows greater accuracy and speed in the processing of components.  

We also work with double column, large format machines. The main benefit of this type of machine is that all five faces can be utilised in a single set up. We have three of these unique machines onsite. The combination of both adaptable operators and machinery allows us to process your batch size of one or small batch orders. Typically, such orders are difficult to place and incur a higher cost. The industry is trending towards CNC production machining. By contrast, Facteon embraces and specialises in one off’s and small batch work. We take pride in offering both flexible machinery and operations. 

Our Machine Shop hosts CNC mills and lathes of various sizes. These machines utilise on-board CAD or CAM programming. This allows us to manufacture both two and three-dimensional components ranging from small vice work through to large components up to two metres in length. This bridges the gap between the capabilities of our manual milling and large format machines.

To fully optimise our machinery, we utilise tools such as SolidWorks and SolidCam. Our team can progress your rough sketch to a formalised engineering drawing.

As well as having skilled operators of world-class machinery, Facteon has fostered a culture of adaptability, teamwork and a can-do attitude. This allows the Machine Shop team to work effectively and efficiently to ensure that your project is completed on time and to specification.  

 

A Qualified Team

A handful of our machinists are, what we like to call, Universal Soldiers. These are staff that have a vast skill set as well as being highly motivated. These are ambitious employees that have demonstrated an ability to work effectively with a variety of different machines. Facteon’s Universal Soldiers can follow a project through from concept to reality.

It’s this level of depth and diversity that allows the team to work in an autonomous and flexible manner. Future machinists that start their careers with a Facteon apprenticeship are taught skills well beyond the minimum government requirements. This eagerness to learn is a common thread in the team. Above all, our customers benefit from quality service and components. The team engage in monthly knowledge sharing sessions. These involve discussion of the latest technologies and their applications. Despite the capabilities of the machines, it’s essential to utilise skilled operators to achieve the required level of precision.

 

Self-reflection

I work to continually evaluate the quality of Facteon’s custom machining offering. I’ve developed a simple tier rating system to assess the quality of components produced, the timeliness of delivery and the ease of utilising Facteon as a supplier. I utilise this system internally by asking: ‘Would I use Facteon’s Machine Shop?’ Through self-reflection, I’m able to have confidence in the work produced by my team. It also allows for learning and continuous improvement.

 

Looking Ahead

There’s a definite shift towards automation with a focus on the implementation of Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0 technologies. However, Facteon is committed to the pragmatic and selective implementation of these technologies. With that in mind, manufacturers will always need components. Facteon’s Universal Soldiers are machinists. Many have spent decades perfecting their craft. It may be argued that machining is a dying art, but we see it as our responsibility to not let this art die. However, our Machine Shop isn’t fueled by passion. It’s fueled by a consistent demand for quality, reliable and durable machined components, crafted by machining experts.

 

Contact Phil and the team for expert machining of your custom components

 

Phil Webb

Phil Webb

Manufacturing Manager

Phil has experience in engineering and machining work across both the racing and specialised machining disciplines. Joining in 1994, he has worked in a variety of functions from manual machining to CNC operations and production management. Currently, Phil manages our machining business unit for internal and external customers.