Airbus UK toolroom redevelopment project

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 October 2004




(2004), "Airbus UK toolroom redevelopment project", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 76 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Airbus UK toolroom redevelopment project

Airbus UK toolroom redevelopment project

Keywords: Airbus, Tooling, Aerospace technology

Following an extensive search of three-axis lathes available in the UK, which led to three UK suppliers of CNC mill/turn centres facing in-depth evaluation of the machine, control, software and on-going economics of running, Colchester Sales of Heckmondwike became the provider of a clear “best-buy” for Airbus UK's £1.5 million toolroom redevelopment project at Broughton, Cheshire.

Graham Tudor, Tooling Operations Manager says: “It was not just a price issue, it was service, support, performance of the machine and ongoing cost justification that drew the Colchester Tornado 120 M ahead of the other contenders. As part of our 21st Century Strategy for the future of the business, new technology is at the forefront of our plans and the 120 M certainly fitted the bill.”

The redeveloped tooling facility covers 3,100 m2, employs 78 people of which 56 and 4 apprentices are on the shopfloor. It is a totally self-contained operation with welders, fitters, machinist toolmakers and support staff serving the whole of the wing assembly plant at Broughton. While the facility manufactures some new tooling, it is largely responsible for repair and maintenance of over 800 tools used in airbus wing production. All figs and fixtures have to be certified and the facility will now be producing short to medium batches of supporting tooling components which have to be specifically modified to suit the current wing build programmes.

Outlines Howard Connah, Support Team Leader Tooling Operations: “The toolroom runs around the clock and we have been able to justify that if we can produce tooling items in-house then we can save weeks on lead time from using subcontractors. This is where the Tornado 120 M will prove to be so cost-effective and of course, we are only a stones-throw from where the parts are needed. We are fully aware of all the relevant regulations and standards to which we need to make parts and the machine will figure as an important part of our internal service capability”.

The chucking version of the Tornado 120 fits exactly into Airbus' requirements with 210 mm chuck size. A 15 kW spindle motor and 12-station 30 VDI all-driven tool turret, with disc brake spindle positioning for the C-axis and 16.5 Mm of torque from the 3.7 kW, 5,000 revs/min driven tools, the toolroom will have adequate power to mill/turn a wide range of aerospace materials.

Details available from: Colchester Sales. Tel: +_44 (0) 1924 415151; Fax: +4 (0) 1924 415152; E-mail:; Web site:

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