Chess Engineering is a well-established Sydney operation in business for more than 40 years and employs nearly 100 staff.
Its recent purchase of a Doosan DNM 650 Vertical Machining Centre from leading machinery specialist Hare and Forbes, marks a change in the company’s operations.
Their main sources of business are a few long-term contracts, including maintenance of railway rolling stock and some work on the food industry.
Accuracy and quality of work in both these areas is, of course, critical – failures of components can lead to expensive down-time, loss of production at the end-user level and in the worst cases, injuries to the public and attendant litigation.
Operations Manager, Stephen Cantrill is new to the business. “I’ve only been with Chess Engineering for 20 months and my focus in that time has been to improve our service to customers,” says Mr Cantrill.
“Customer service is very important, but buying a major piece of plant is not something done on impulse.
“I opened myself up to several suppliers, getting prices and service details from several agencies. “I was particularly interested in service availability as well as price. I also spoke to several people who’d bought similar machines.
“The decision to purchase the machine was not one taken lightly. “I’d dealt with Hare and Forbes before, but never for anything this big.”
Mr Cantrill says Hare and Forbes were prepared to put its own reputation on the line.
“They put me in touch with customers who’d had similar purchases, in order to obtain references,” he says.
“It sometimes takes a brave supplier to do this, but clearly the results were positive.”
Mr Cantrill says installation and training for some of Chess Engineering’s staff in the machine was vital.
“Chess needed to get the new gear up and running as soon as possible, he says.
“As this is the first time Chess have had a CNC machine, there was a need for staff to get familiar with the new gear, but that has gone smoothly even considering the fact that none of the staff had previous CNC experience.”
SECO Tools Australia also assisted with tooling, technical advice and support.
“It’s good for the blokes on the shop floor to see that we’re serious in improving our business, Mr Cantrill says. They gain new skills and it hopefully gives them greater job security.”
In the past, all CNC work had been contracted out, a practice that brought with it various issues such as long lead times, quality issues and of course cost.
Having the Doosan DNM 650 in house has allowed much of the out-sourcing to cease, eliminating these issues.
One particular component that has been brought in house is a manifold Chess produce for sister company Chess Flameproof. This manifold has requirements for high surface finish and accuracy, often a problem with the outsourced parts. Since the manifold production has been brought in house the lead time has been reduced from weeks to days, the cost essentially halved and the surface finish and accuracy issues much easier to control.
As an added bonus there’s now the opportunity for Chess to offer a contract machining service themselves, to maximise the machine’s utility.
They can turn the contracting out into contracting in – a new revenue source as well as a cost saving.
It doesn’t end there – Chess are looking at installing Edge Cam in the future to further increase its in-house CNC productivity.
But for now, things are looking rosy at Chess Engineering.
They’re operating faster, they’ve got an opportunity for new revenue streams and there’s a shiny, impressive bit of kit in their factory.
Hare & Forbes
Ph: 02 9890 9111
Australia's No.1 Manufacturing & Industrial Equipment Magazine & Directory