Getting more out of machine performance with data analysis

24 February 2022

A small Accrington-based business has improved the performance of its machining capability through data analysis and upgraded software, supported by engineers from the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West.

Precision Machining Ltd manufactures thousands of different components to precise specifications and fine tolerances, from ‘one-off’ bespoke items to medium-size batches.

Ken Branton, project manager at Precision Machining, said: “Our machines are excellent, high-quality pieces of kit but they’re not all the newest or the most state-of-the-art. We wanted the AMRC engineers to support us in understanding how to use them as effectively as we can.

“We were interested in capturing and interrogating data to help us optimise our processes, our machines and the work of our operators. This was about understanding the running conditions of our machines and what preventative maintenance we might need to build into their upkeep.

“The AMRC engineers did a good job of understanding what we wanted to achieve and applying their skills and expertise to the problem. We have to be cautious about making changes in the current climate, but as soon as we move into a more stable operating phase, we will be implementing their recommendations.”

The AMRC, which is part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult network of research centres, supports businesses to explore development opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have access to. The project was part-paid for using European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding as part of a commitment to working with small and medium-sized enterprises to help them innovate and grow.

Dr Luis Urena is the machining technology technical lead at AMRC North West, based in Preston. He said: “This project was all about supporting a business to gather and leverage information to help improve performance. Precision Machining Ltd wanted to extract data that would enable them to monitor and improve the efficiency of their machines.

“They were also looking for software recommendations for an upgrade to their systems, so we produced a report which outlined the different options available to them, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.”

Ken Branton added: “It’s clear, when you work with the AMRC engineers, that there’s no bias towards a particular solution or supplier, which is reassuring for a business like ours. We know the AMRC will suggest the best solution irrespective of what that might be. I was also impressed at their ability to work with different sized businesses and budgets. We don’t have a bottomless pit of money to draw from, and it was great to see the AMRC recommendations fall within our budget.”

To find out how AMRC North West can help your business, contact Iain Martin, senior engagement manager, on 01254 947100 or

The project was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

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