Leading bakery manufacturing specialist invests in four Doosan machines as a route to bringing its precision machining requirements in house.

Mills CNC, the exclusive distributor of Doosan machine tools in the UK and Ireland, has recently supplied, in short order, Peterborough-based PJ Innovations Ltd., a leading bakery equipment manufacturing specialist, with three new vertical machining centres and a new multi-tasking lathe.

The four machines, now installed at the company’s modern 7,500sq. ft. facility in Market Deeping, comprise a large-capacity DNM 750 II machining centre and a Puma GT 3100LM lathe equipped with a C-axis and driven tooling capabilities both delivered to the company in March 2019 as part of a turnkey solution, and two DNM 6700 machining centres which were acquired in October 2020 and June 2021 respectively.

The four machines provide PJ Innovations with state-of-the-art machining capabilities and are the centrepiece of the machine shop facility that was established, relatively recently, in 2019 with the primary purpose of enabling the company to machine, in-house, a range of specific parts for its highly regarded and globally recognised heavy-duty Dough Divider Rounder machines*.

Explains Peter Jackson, PJ Innovations’ Owner and Managing Director:

“PJ Innovations was established in 2014. In the early days we focused our efforts and resources on the design and assembly of our Dough Divider Rounder machines; as a consequence, we subcontracted-out all of our machining requirements to a number of precision engineering specialists.”

Whilst this arrangement proved satisfactory in the short term, it did create some issues – primarily concerning quality, lead time fulfilment and costs.

Continues Peter Jackson:

“As demand for our Dough Divider Rounders increased, not just throughout the UK but in Europe and the US, we made the strategic business decision to exercise more control over all our manufacturing processes.

“To ensure the ready availability of high-quality machined components for new Divider Rounder machines and to satisfy the demands for running a responsive and ‘best-in-class’ customer spares and replacement parts operation, we decided to lessen our reliance on outsourcing and create our own in-house machine shop to meet our future machining needs and requirements.”

However, as there are hundreds of machined parts in every Divider Rounder machine, the company first identified and prioritised specific parts to machine.

These parts had a number of things in common: a) similar size dimensions; b) high accuracy and exacting surface finish requirements; c) complex profiles and features; d) long set up and cycle times; e) high value.

Hitting the ground running

Identifying the range of parts to machine in house was one thing. Acquiring the appropriate machine tool technologies and creating the production processes to machine them was another.

Remembers Nick Lormor, PJ Innovations’ General Manager.

“It was a steep learning curve because not only did we have to identify, and then invest in, the right machine tools…we also needed to design and develop robust and reliable processes to get the most from the machines in order to manufacture, efficiently and cost-competitively, the parts in question.

“It became evident, quite quickly, that we needed a turnkey solution and that we also needed to identify a proven partner who could help us design and implement one.”

MACH 2018

To look at the latest and most advanced machine tool technologies on the market and to help identify a suitable turnkey partner, the company attended the MACH 2018 exhibition in Birmingham.

It was here that the relationship with Mills CNC began.

Moving forwards

Says Nick Lormor:

“We approached a number of companies at the event. Not all provided turnkey/process improvement solutions but, from those that did, we preferred the proactive approach adopted by Mills CNC.

“We also liked the look of the Doosan machine tools they sold and supported and, as such, we arranged to meet after MACH to discuss our requirements in more detail and to scope out the project.”

Cutting a long story short…

In 2019 a large-capacity, Fanuc-controlled Doosan DNM 750 II vertical machining centre equipped with a 8,000rpm high-torque BT 40 spindle and a Nikken 260 rotary table with a TAT support unit was installed in PJ Innovations’ machine shop facility along with a 12’ chuck Doosan Puma GT 3100LM multi-tasking lathe equipped with a 2,800rpm spindle, a C-axis, driven tooling capability and a hydraulic steady rest.

Both machines were delivered as part of a turnkey solution designed and developed, over a number of months, by Mills CNC’s pre-sales application engineers in conjunction with production staff from PJ Innovations.

Says Nick Lormor:

“We use the two Doosans to machine performance-critical core parts of our Divider Rounder machines – namely base plates (part of the top box assembly) on the DNM 750 II, and long shaft/cylindrical part segments (part of the rotating head assembly) on the Puma GT 3100LM.”

The base plates and segments can vary in size and specification, according to customer needs and requirements, but all are made from cast iron or stainless 316 and involve high metal material removal rates achieved though high accuracy roughing operations.

These precision parts are machined to tight to tolerances – typically to a couple of thousandths of an inch.

Continues Nick Lormor:

“Key elements and features in the machining processes, developed with Mills CNC, involved innovative workholding and the use of non-conventional tooling (e.g., bespoke angled head cutters). Mills’ knowledge and expertise has been invaluable in helping design a robust, reliable and repeatable machining process for these parts.”

The success of the first turnkey project and the learning curve travelled by staff (i.e., setting up jobs, programming and operating different machine tools, understanding different machining processes, knowing about the machinability of materials etc., has seen the company increase its headcount and invest in two more Doosan machines in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

The two new machines – both Fanuc-controlled DNM 6700 vertical machining centres with 12,000rpm spindles and 30 position ATCs – are being used to machine different Divider Rounder machine parts e.g., hoppers etc.

Says Peter Jackson:

“Creating the machine shop has been a successful venture and we are looking to increase its capacity and capabilities still further in the future to enable us to machine more parts in house.

“Watch this space.”

Training and CAD/CAM

PJ Innovations has created an impressive, high-productivity machine shop from a standing start.

To enable it to fully, and quickly, exploit the new machine tool technologies it had at its disposal, the company took advantage of the training courses provided by the CNC Training Academy – Mills CNC’s independently operated training division.

Explains Adam Haynes, CNC Programmer at PJ Innovations:

“All of our Doosan machines feature advanced Fanuc controls.

“This means that programs can be transferred between machines if and when required. It also improves efficiency as machine shop staff are able to programme and operate all of our machines.”

In addition to CNC training the company has recently invested in BobCAD-CAM software.

Continues Adam Haynes:

“As we are machining more and more parts in house we needed a powerful CAM solution – one that would help us (ultimately) machine these parts faster, better and more economically.

“Staff at the CNC Training Academy introduced us to BobCAD-CAM.”

BobCAD-CAM is helping PJ Innovations machine new and different parts in house. The software enables part to be drawn or imported…correct and accurate cutting tool paths to be created…and the code to be posted to the relevant CNC machine.

Concludes Adam Haynes:

“It’s quick, seamless and error-free. New parts, part upgrades and/or part iterations can be machined efficiently and cost-effectively using BobCAD-CAM.”

Dough Divider Rounder Machines

Dough Divider Rounders are specialist machines used in/for the mass production of many bakery products that include pizza bases, pittas, tortillas, nan breads, chapatis, bagels, rolls etc.

The machines accurately portion dough mix into pieces and the rounder rolls the portions into balls.

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