Two of the very latest ‘icon’ versions of the full specification Citizen Cincom L32-VIII CNC sliding head turn-mill centres feature as part of the first of the extensive machine tool installations in the new manufacturing plant relocation plans of the Alco Valves Group.

Alco Valves Group’s new, purpose designed 68,000 ft2 flagship headquarters which has seen an investment of $10 million on an 8.5 acre site in Brighouse, West Yorkshire, will progressively integrate three existing sites, in order to centralise product design and research as well as the development, production, final assembly and test of oil and natural gas valves.

Acquired by American conglomerate Graco Inc. in 2014, a world leader in fluid handling equipment, Alco Valves has become a key part of Graco’s oil and gas division. The decision to purchase the Citizen machines against competitor sliding head machines involved not only a team from the UK but also engineers from America.  Together, they jointly performed in-depth investigations of the technology and the potential capability to meet future production requirements.

Major advantages also cited in the justification and decision for the Citizen machine installations were factors such as reliability plus ease-of-use and high levels of flexibility for processing the company’s type of work.  Once the joint decision was made, the US team also placed orders for identical machines to perform similar turn-milling requirements for parts up to 32 mm diameter.
The two Citizen machines, which were installed in a cell in late February, are being progressively tooled for producing valve bodies, inserts, end connectors, stems and seals using materials including 316 stainless steel, duplex and PEEK.  Cycle times at the moment vary between 30 secs for seats to 5 minutes for valve bodies.

Mr Stonier, UK Manufaturing Engineer Manager commented: “This was our first venture into sliding head technology as these parts up to 32 mm diameter were previously made on subcontract. This means our focus has been on building our own very cost-efficient programs that will reduce our lead times.

Tom Stonier described how the acceptance trials of both machines were carried out without a hitch and all the run-off criteria was easily exceeded.The Alco Valves machines have an IEMCA bar feed and outfeed component conveyor, Citizen’s Coolblaster CB50 high pressure coolant system and Absolute filtration.   An external coolant tank is included with integrated swarf conveyor that has an air curtain under the conveyor outlet to prevent any small swarf particles being carried back along the load length of the conveyor.  Both machines are linked into a wireless network that will cover all machine tools in the facility.

Tel: 01923 691500