Mills CNC supplies two new, high-performance Doosan machine tools to the Advancing Manufacturing Centre (AMC) located at West Highland College UHI in Fort William.

Mills CNC, the exclusive distributor of Doosan machine tools in the UK and Ireland, has recently supplied two new, high-performance machines to the recently launched Advancing Manufacturing Centre (AMC) – a unique, innovative and transformative research, design and manufacturing ‘hub’ based within West Highland College UHI’s Ocean Frontier facility in Fort William, Inverness-shire.

The machines, a Lynx 2100LMB multi-tasking lathe and a flexible DEM 4000 vertical machining centre, were delivered to, and installed at, the AMC in September and October 2021 respectively…in good time for the Centre’s official opening on 15th November. They form part of an impressive array of advanced manufacturing technologies and equipment the Centre now has at its disposal.

Advancing Manufacturing Centre: What’s it all about?

The AMC is part of the national ‘Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund’ (AMCF) – an economic growth and regeneration partnership between the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and is also part funded by the 2014 – 2020 European Structural & Investment Fund.

The overarching aim of AMCF funded projects (i.e., like the AMC) is that they have a direct and measurable impact on increasing the manufacturing capacities, capabilities and competitiveness of SMEs within Scotland, and of becoming recognised agents of change and best-practice: transforming, exponentially where possible, national and regional skill and productivity levels.

To achieve these aims the Centre, through its £1.6M funding, will help stimulate and improve the performance of SMEs by providing them with direct access to advanced manufacturing technologies and expertise – at zero cost to their businesses.

The free support and expertise are being offered to a diverse range of industry sectors including Food & Drink, Construction, Renewables, Aquaculture and Hospitality.

Says Margaret Weir, AMC’s Project Manager:

“Providing existing and new companies with a risk-free ‘sandpit environment’ where they are able to fully explore and understand specific manufacturing issues and challenges they are confronting and, as a result, be able to then design and develop innovative solutions using freely available advanced manufacturing technologies at the Centre, is a real business benefit.”

It is also anticipated (and expected) that the Centre, through its successes, will also be instrumental in helping promote STEM subjects and careers within schools and colleges resulting, over time, in the establishment of a skilled STEM workforce aligned with local and regional business needs.

Advanced technology – meeting the needs of manufacturers today and tomorrow

The two new Doosan machines supplied to the AMC share pride of place with a range of advanced manufacturing technologies and equipment that include:

  • Advanced machine tools.
  • Additive Manufacturing (AM), 3D Printing and Laser Scanning equipment.
  • Automation and robotic systems.
  • Festo Didactic ‘Smart Factory and Industry 4.0’ integrated hardware and software training systems and solutions focused on wind and solar power generation, building automation systems, mechatronics, hydraulics and pneumatics, machine maintenance, electric car charging stations, and electric drives and industrial controls.
  • Advanced CAD/CAM software.

Explains David Campbell, STEM Project Director:

“The emphasis and focus of our project are on meeting the needs of SMEs in the West Highlands of Scotland…helping them become more competitive through embracing, utilising and exploiting the latest manufacturing, automation and smart digital technologies.”

The technologies and equipment acquired have a broad scope and are intended to appeal to, and attract, as many SMEs to the Centre as possible.

The equipment and technology at the AMC were acquired via a rigorous tender process with Mills CNC being one of a number of machine tool manufacturers/suppliers invited to submit tenders for supplying a CNC lathe and machining centre.

The Doosan machines: Let’s take a closer look.

Doosan machines are a recognised technology ‘staple’ for component manufacturers throughout the world, and Mills CNC, the distributor of Doosan machines in the UK and Ireland, is highly regarded and well respected not just for the machine tools it sells but for the range of after-sales services it provides to customers.

Every year hundreds of large and small UK and Irish component manufacturers (OEMs and Tier One suppliers through to precision subcontractors), universities and colleges, research centres etc., invest in Doosan machine tools from Mills CNC.

Amongst the best-selling models in Mills’ machine tool portfolio are Lynx 2100 series lathes and compact Doosan vertical machining centres like the DNM series of machines.

Lynx 2100LMB

The Lynx 2100LMB is a best-selling 8” chuck multi-tasking lathe equipped with a 15kW/4500rpm spindle, driven tooling capabilities (3.7kW/6,000rpm), a tailstock (to machine longer parts), and the advanced Doosan Fanuc 0iTF control with the 15” touchscreen iHMI.

The lathe has a maximum turning diameter of 310mm and turning length of 510mm, and was also supplied with a CNC bar puller enabling it to machine components in larger batches from bar stock.

Says John Morning, Mills CNC Business Manager, Scotland:

“The Lynx 2100LMB is a compact turning centre equipped with many advanced features that enable it to machine complex, high precision parts in one hit.”

 DEM 4000

The DEM 4000 is a compact, fast and versatile 3-axis machining centre equipped with a 5.5kW/8,000rpm spindle, a 20 station ATC and the latest Fanuc 0iMF control. The machine also features a 650mm x 400mm worktable with 400kg maximum table load and boasts 24m/min rapids on its three axes.

Explains John Morning:

“The DEM 4000 is ideal if you are looking for a small, compact machining centre but don’t want to compromise on speed or power.”

Summary

The AMC is an essential and integral component in helping Scotland grow (and diversify) its manufacturing base and create a highly-skilled workforce and high-skilled, well paid and sustainable jobs in the future.

By providing SMEs with a range of services (including training) and access to advanced manufacturing technologies and equipment at zero cost to their businesses, the AMC is tackling, head-on, issues and perceived weaknesses in Scotland’s manufacturing base and sector supply chains exposed, recently, by the Covid-19 crisis.

Concludes John Morning:

“We are delighted to have been involved with the AMC at the outset and to have installed two of our best-selling machine tool models at the Centre.”

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