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New facility in the North West for subcontract machining of aircraft structurals



 A new, 17,500 sq ft factory was opened in October 2015 by Burnley subcontractor, BCW Engineering and a second, similar unit is being built next door specifically to drive the firm’s expansion in the aerospace industry. The extra floor area brings the total factory space occupied by BCW in Burnley to more than 100,000 sq ft.

The company’s latest two buildings and the acquisition of three new machines, two large-capacity machining centres and a coordinate measuring machine (CMM), represent an investment of over £1 million. One of the machining centres, a Japanese-built 5-axis Makino MCD 2016 horizontal-spindle, twin-pallet model, is noteworthy as being one of only four such machines in the UK, the other three being under one roof in the South West.
Interestingly, BCW’s technical director and group engineering director both worked for another aerospace subcontractor where the machine was previously installed. Together with engineers from Track Machine Tools Ltd, a division of BCW Engineering, and supported by the service department at NCMT, Makino’s sole UK agent, they were responsible for refurbishing the MCD 2016 over a 10-week period.

The machine promotes BCW’s status in the aerospace supply chain. It has a working envelope of 2,000 x 1,600 x 1,300 mm and the rotary table can accept workpieces weighing up to 10 tonnes. The 50-taper spindle with through-spindle coolant is rated at 15,000 rpm / 50 kW, making it ideal for machining aluminium structurals for aircraft. Indeed, the machine specification when it was built in 2007 was for the manufacture of Airbus gear ribs.

With this in mind, a 99-position tool magazine was provided, as well as a 25-degree angle head positioned by a 360-degree C-axis and exchanged with the assistance of a semi-automatic, powered head changer. Linear scales are fitted in X, Y and Z for high precision positional feedback to the Makino MPC-2 / Fanuc 16MC control. Operation of a similar machine may be viewed at
A Dahlih DCM 3216 gantry-type, three-axis, vertical-spindle machining centre with 3,000 x 2,000 x 1,600 metre working envelope and a large Wenzel gantry CMM complete this round of investment by BCW, a company that since its launch in 2002 has continually reinvested heavily in plant, personnel and infrastructure.
The latest equipment joins many smaller prismatic metalcutting machines and turn-milling centres in other factory units within BCW, where aircraft parts have been produced virtually since the company was established. They include engine parts, landing gear equipment and safety-critical items, machined from a variety of materials.
Operations director Trevor Cassie said, “Manufacture of aircraft parts has always been a key focus at BCW, as evidenced by our accreditation to AS9100 Rev C in 2010.
“We also hold many customer-specific approvals, including Safran and BAE Systems since 2008, Aircelle a year later and Messier Dowty in 2012, both part of the Safran group, Wesco Aircraft, Unison GE and most recently GKN Aerospace, which we gained in August 2015.
“The North West is home to the largest aerospace cluster in Europe, adding over £7 billion to the UK economy, according to The North West Aerospace Alliance, of which we are a member.”

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