Process filter maker Amazon Filters has added more capacity to its housing component manufacturing with two semi-automated CNC mills going live.
Their purchase and implementation are the latest stages in a £1 million investment programme at the Surrey-based firm, which supplies all industries worldwide that rely on process filtration.
Capital expenditure on new machinery supports Amazon Filters’ policy of ‘vertical integration’ in which manufacturing is increasingly done in-house with less reliance on third parties or sub-contractors.
The aim is to support ‘quick and able’ manufacturing, the fast, accurate capacity to turn round customer orders, including complex and bespoke projects, whatever their size and wherever they originate in the world.
The new CNC equipment complements a doubling of staff numbers in housing component manufacture from six operatives three years ago to 12 now and with a further appointment due in 2023.
Team members work in a dedicated production hub at the 37-year-old firm’s Camberley factory processing raw, hardcore metal bars, blocks, sheets and tubes into parts ready for welding and final housing assembly.
Tube lengths tend to be three or six metres, weighing up to 130kg and with diameters of 12 or 16 inches.
Stored on huge racks, the raw material parts are moved into position for cutting, folding, drilling, marking and other processes using lifting aids including a motorised platform.
Most metal is stainless steel but, for some applications, the nickel alloy Hastelloy is the base material.
At any given time, hundreds of flat discs or plates are in the process of being turned into lids, top ends or end caps and with different-sized holes drilled to suit.
The team operate five distinct cells: sheet metal; de-burring and degreasing (the removal of very fine coats of oil); press; fabrication; and machining, the most recent cell.
Adrian Price, Lead Fabricator for Housing Component Manufacturing, said: “It’s big-scale work and we represent the start of the process for making housings.
“In line with the company’s expansion, we moved to our separate and bigger hub from under a mezzanine floor in the main production centre in 2019.
“The extra space and capacity have enabled us to do far more in-house rather than rely on subcontractors or third-party suppliers.
“We have more control over what we do, and how, why and when we do it.
“We have done a great deal of in-house training with everyone upgrading to be able to do all the jobs within the department including the use of the new CNC mills.
“Working in conjunction with colleagues in the sales and operations departments, we have made massive in-roads on productivity through dynamic scheduling and greater control over workflows and delivery times.
“From the production point of view, we have more flexibility and can ship a job more easily.
“Say we have a water company requiring urgent filtration equipment to cope with a cryptosporidium outbreak, we have cut lead times, created more scope to customise and improved our ability to turn round the order quickly.
“As the worldwide market expands, the ability to do things in-house becomes more important so we have taken the opportunity to grasp the nettle and improve our processes.
“Our work is very diverse and we relish the challenge of the one-off, for example if you have an oil and gas customer saying they need specific equipment to go that bit deeper in the oceans, it’s great to be able to say we can do it.”
Amazon Filters’ capital investment programme also includes the relocation of storage space and the opening of a new production hall for the manufacture of pleated filter cartridges, a flagship product for the firm.
The capital spend complements recent team appointments on the sales side, including territory managers for the Americas and Asian-Pacific regions.