In with the new
Sustained business growth over the past five years, brought about by a product range expansion, increased market share and the success in opening up new markets, had placed increasing pressure on M.A. Ford Europe to expand its UK based operation to meet demand and future business development targets.
After 20 years of trading in the UK, much of it located in Pride Park, Derby, the company has now moved its HQ to larger premises at City Gate, less than a mile from its original location, with the official opening taking place on June 25th2019.
The pressure on the capacity and facilities of its original HQ, were recognised as far back as 2016 when plans began to take shape for a move to larger premises. Managing director, David Ward, explains: “It was inevitable that we would need to move, but we didn’t just want to be a bigger version of what we already were. We wanted to evolve and develop as an organisation to enhance the scope and quality of support we provide to our customers, as well as our UK and international distributors.”
With an area of more than 8,700 sq. ft, 808.2 sq.metres, the new building is almost four times the size of its previous one. In addition to the increased office space, meeting rooms and conference facilities, the warehousing and storage capacity has more than tripled in size to 4,000 sq.ft, 371.6 sq.metres, which enables a wider range of tooling to be held in stock and allow rapid despatch to meet customer orders.
This is particularly important, as the M.A. Ford tooling range has been expanded considerably over the past 12 months under its APG (Advanced Product Group) and FordMAX brands. Alongside the recently introduced TuffCut® Series 380 XT9 end-mill, which is designed for high speed machining of titanium, inconel and super-alloys, other new products under the APG banner include the TuffCut® Series 3 MVS and MVR micro-diameter coated carbide end mills, which range from 0.5 mm to 3.0 mm diameter, and the Twister® Series M coated carbide micro-drills, which covers diameters from 1.00 mm to 2.95 mm.
It’s a similar story for FordMAX with the introduction of six new product lines including the UK made Series MV4 solid carbide end mills, Universal HP Taps and four new indexable insert ranges. These include indexable high-feed milling; shoulder milling and spotting & chamfering tools, as well as an indexable turning tools range.
Arguably, the most important feature of the new facility has been the creation of a dedicated technology centre on the ground floor, which is being used for UK and international distributor training, tool prototyping and diagnostics. At the heart of the technology centre is a new Spinner U-630 5-axis universal machining centre, which uses Siemens Sinumerik 840DE SolutionLine Control CNC software, which augments the existing technology centre based at the company’s Leeds based custom tool division.
David Ward concludes: “With the new machine, we can accurately reproduce the cutting conditions that our customers are running, so that we can advise on how to achieve the best performance from our tooling. We’re also using it to test our own new tool designs on a range of materials to ensure our quoted cutting data is robust and reliable.”
“We had been planning the move to our new HQ for almost two years and now everything is fully operational, all the effort finally seems worthwhile. We’re already experiencing many of the advantages we had anticipated, such as enhancing our technical support and tooling development while maintaining the spirit of innovation that was started 100 years ago in the US. Although, geographically, we’ve moved less than a mile to our new HQ, as a business we’ve travelled much further.”