Following the investment, the company can now call upon a total of 20 CNC machines at any one time, with five of those being 5-axis machining centres that provide bed sides ranging from 400 to 630 mm. This latest equipment, which has been supplied by the Engineering Technology Group (ETG), has given Alucast the speed and precision necessary to meet the just-in-time delivery requirements of existing and future orders.
The investment will also deliver a 30% increase in capacity to take on up to £3 million of new projects, not to mention the ability to reduce lead times and achieve even greater repeatable quality.
Supported by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, Black Country LEP and the Black Country Growth Deal, the machine shop was officially opened by Aston Martin Lagonda’s independent non-executive director Lord Carrington, and Lord Whitby from Made in the Midlands, with staff, suppliers, partners and customers in attendance.
Tony Sartorius, chairman of Alucast, says: “While there are a lot of challenges to overcome in the current automotive sector, there also remain many opportunities for suppliers who can build strategic partnerships with their customers, helping them to design, develop and manufacture the lightweight parts of the future. This is what we’ve been able to do with Aston Martin and a number of other luxury automotive producers and, in order to meet increases in volumes, we’ve completed our own sizable investment in creating a world-class machine shop.”
He adds: “It gives us complete control of the machining process so that we can cast the part and machine it to the highest possible standard. Some 24 people will be employed in this area, including operatives, supervisory staff and an apprentice, with more jobs to follow.”
Alucast will use the additional capacity to provide thin-walled, lightweight castings for Aston Martin in Wales, as well as new components for Lotus and low-pressure work for Morgan. The new lightweight contracts should see the business work towards £8.5 million of sales, with automotive clients joined by a raft of customers in agriculture, hydraulics, and the oil and gas industry.
John Swift, managing director at Alucast, says: “It would be quite easy for us to let the current economic uncertainty rule our decisions, but that would be a mistake and mean we lose ground on our international rivals. The £2.25 million we’ve invested in the new machining shop, associated R&D projects and casting facilities, is absolutely vital to keeping us at the forefront of the supply chain, and in a solid position to continue growing our base in the Black Country. We have to be proactive in supporting our clients with their ambitious expansion plans, and this investment does just that.”
The final word goes to Lord Carrington, who says: “I was delighted to see first-hand the investment Alucast that has put into its business to support Aston Martin and other automotive customers. It’s a perfect example of how the supply chain can work with carmakers to get ahead of the latest technologies and help deliver lighter and more efficient vehicles.”