Nine have recently been installed and are being used to provide the steps from basic manual machines through to CNC. They support students as they return from their first year at a local college, helping them make the transition to becoming knowledgeable about machine tools and the application of CNC. With its range of manual machines and ProtoTRAK-controlled mills and lathes, XYZ Machine Tools became was ideally placed to help in this effort.

Explains Neil Fowkes, head of training at AMTC’s training services: “We currently have 120 apprentices, spread over three cohorts, all of which are directly employed by the MTC. The aim is to develop their skills to a level that will add value to SME companies in our area and be ambassadors of the AMTC with their future employers after their initial two years of training.

“In their first year, our apprentices attend a local college to work towards their EAL Extended Diploma. They then return to the AMTC where they will work on various individual and team projects, as well as undertaking training on three core subjects of Metrology, CNC and Intelligent Automation. After this, we feel they are developing in to well-rounded and knowledgeable trainees and we work with local SMEs to make them aware of the available skills; this is enhanced by a series of work placements for the apprentices. That isn’t the end of their training, though, as they have the option of extending their education and going on to study for a higher education programme, if their grades and future employer allow.”

Of the selection of equipment, he adds: “We needed a broad range of suppliers that we could develop a valued relationship with and with the potential for natural growth as we develop our training activities. When we met with XYZ, it quickly became obvious that they understood the training environment, and they worked with us to ensure that we acquired the machines that were needed, not what they wanted to sell. This willingness of XYZ Machine Tools to work with us, along with its extensive experience in the education and training sector, gave us the confidence that we needed. In turn this will lead to a good working relationship in years to come.”

The XYZ machines installed at the AMTC include five manual machines, comprising two XYZ trainer 1330 lathes and two SLV manual mills, all fitted with Newall digital readouts, along with an XYZ 1020 surface grinder. These manual machines are complemented by four ProtoTRAK-controlled machines, two XYZ SLX 1630 ProTURN lathes and two XYZ SMX 2000 ProtoTRAK mills. The machines are used to machine both standard test pieces and individual parts that students (both apprentices and those on graduate programmes) have designed as part of their design for manufacture studies. The AMTC also hosts many tours for students looking to take up an apprenticeship and the machines play an important role in this, with existing apprentices demonstrating the machine capabilities or, in some cases, under strict supervision, students being able to machine simple parts for themselves.

Says Fowkes: “The combination of the XYZ machines, the experience of our sector and the ongoing support provided by XYZ has created an environment that is conducive to quality technical learning. XYZ has provided us with a complete package that included staff training and ongoing support.”

Regarding the latter, he pointed to a four-day advanced course at XYZ’s premises for 12 of its trainees, where they were to undergo intensive tuition on programming, not only on the XYZ ProtoTRAK control system, but also on Siemens controls, which will prepare them for the next step up in machine tool technology. Says Fowkes: “This training came about through a discussion with John Aspinall, XYZ Machine Tools’ education sales director. We identified that we had a need and within 24 hours of our discussion the training had been organised and scheduled.”