Precision engineering and rail industry refurbishment specialist relies on Hurco machine tools


The rail and engineering divisions of Jones Nuttall, occupying two adjacent buildings on the Bewsey Industrial Estate in Warrington, provide extensive subcontract manufacturing and overhaul services. Multiple materials including tough metal alloys and high performance plastics undergo machining, forming, profiling, fabrication, welding, painting, assembly and test.

Underpinning most of the CNC prismatic machining are three Hurco VM30i vertical machining centres, two of which were installed in September 2015 in part exchange for older models from the same supplier. It is the subcontractor’s policy that the age of its machine tools does not exceed nine years. Four Hurco Hawk knee-type CNC milling machines are also in use, forming one-quarter of the milling capability on-site.

Additionally, two Hurco lathes with bar magazines account for 25 per cent of CNC turning capacity. They are a 10-inch chuck TM10 and an 8-inch chuck TMM8 with live tooling and C-axis.

Jones Nuttall has been dealing with Hurco since 2000, at which time the subcontractor decided to progress from manual-tool-change mills to machining centres. It opted for Hurco machines due to the build quality and high spindle power of the machining centres and lathes.

Use of the manufacturer’s proprietary WinMAX control and programming software has been a bonus, especially as so many operators are familiar with using it these days. Cutting cycles are prepared quickly using the drop-down, touch-screen menus, which is essential for economical production if only a few parts are to be run off.

A good relationship has developed between Jones Nuttall and Hurco over the last 16 years and the supplier’s after-sales support is reliable, which has resulted in the subcontractor purchasing metal cutting machines almost exclusively from Hurco ever since. A significant advantage of the manufacturer’s equipment is that it holds value well, which makes the transition financially viable when it comes to replacing them.

Jones Nuttall’s turnover is derived from various sectors including the rail industry, which is serviced by a specialist division. Contracts involve refurbishing flexitors, drum switches, reversers, traction equipment, resistor grids, contactors and gangways as well as such items as pulleys, hinges and clevis pins used on Network Rail’s overhead equipment.

When visited, the company was machining a forged steel centering arm for a railway carriage coupling on one of the latest VM30i machining centres, while the other was milling a mild steel valve flange for a filtration equipment manufacturer.

The remainder of the subcontract engineering capability at Warrington is spread across multiple industries including oil and gas, petrochemical, defence and aerospace. Metals processed include Inconel, titanium alloy, stainless steel, steels, brass, aluminium, copper and even silver. Engineering thermoplastics such as nylon, acetal and PEEK are also regularly machined, as well as composites such as Railko, Tufnol, epoxy glass and polyester. All products are produced in a dedicated, self-contained unit which benefits from having extraction fitted to all machines.

Jones Nuttall was founded in 1971 and has been at its current premises for over 10 years. In 2009, the Rail Division expanded into adjoining premises, which added 7,400 m2 of factory space to the existing 20,000 m2. Today, the company supplies over 300 customers, employs 60 staff and regularly takes on new apprentices.