The Machinery Interview: Piers Thynne & Malcolm Jones - McLaren Racing

2 min read

McLaren Racing’s machine shop must be on top of its game to compete with the intense competition in Formula One. Justin Burns spoke to Piers Thynne, executive director of operations and Malcolm Jones, manager of machining and fabrication, about how the Woking-based team, which achieved a 1-2 at the recent Italian Grand Prix, stays at the front of the grid

Q) How many employees work in your machine shop and what machines do you operate?

Malcolm: We have 57 employees in the machine shop split across two teams and four shifts and work a four-on four-off shift pattern 24-hours, seven days a week, so constant velocity.

We run an all-Yamazaki Mazak fleet of machines and operate 27 Mazak machines that range from INTEGREX type machines – we have i200s and i300s, then through to the turning section where we have QUICK TURN NEXUS 250-II MYs and SQTs with various levels of controls – some with the new SMOOTH controllers on them.

Then we go to the milling area where we have the Variaxis and the Hyper Variaxis milling machines. i600s with SMOOTH controls and Hyper Variaxis machines which are our larger 5-axis machines fitted with direct driver linear motors.

Q) Earlier this year you received a new Mazak INTEGREX i-100S Multi-Tasking 5-axis machining centre – why was it chosen?

Malcolm: Not only does the i-100S complement our machine portfolio nicely, but it also underpins our need for more flexible and capable machines. Features such as the MAZATROL SMOOTHX CNC and the second spindle enables us to produce components to a higher degree of accuracy and faster than the older generation machines.

The machine’s versatility enables it to be used for the manufacture of a variety of parts including those used within the suspension, transmission and engine systems, as well as general car system components. The i-100S was the next step forward in our larger plans to refresh our machine shop and invest in the latest simultaneous 5-axis machine tool technology.

Q) Is McLaren looking to make more investments and upgrades in the latest technology in your machine shop?

Malcolm: As part of our longer-term investment strategy in manufacturing technologies, we plan for regular upgrades to our existing portfolio of machines to ensure we operate with the fastest, most efficient technology available. It is important for us to invest in new machines, but this is all budget dependent.

We need to keep pace with the latest technology and obviously machine tools are changing and evolving all the time and they get faster with faster processors and faster spindle speeds.

We are in a refresh programme at the moment, where our older machines will be replaced by new technology in the future. We have a 5-year plan and within that is machine refreshment and it is done on a continual basis and not in one mass change.

Every year, we look at replacing the older machines with new machines. At the end of 2020, we acknowledged the need to increase the versatility of our in-house machining to help improve our competitiveness on the track.

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