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From jobbing shop to major player


Shannon Precision Engineering’s operations manager, Nicos Mylonas discussing the tension arms with WNT’s Shane O’Donnell

Shannon Precision Engineering’s managing director, Dominic Murphy with WNT’s Jerry Warren

Just part of Shannon Precision Engineering’s extensive machining capability, which will be expanded further during 2018

Over its 40 year existence Shannon Precision Engineering has grown from a small sub-contract jobbing shop into one of Ireland’s major players working across many industry sectors, including automotive, hydraulics, oil and gas, cleantech, temperature control (transport),power generation, medical device, and rail sectors. Its expansion plans will also see it making in-roads into the aerospace sector.

Work for these customers now ranges in batch sizes from a few-off components through to high volumes, up to 100,000/annum quantities and Shannon Precision has reacted to this change in workload over the years with significant investment in CNC turning and milling capacity with over 30 machines, many, with multi-axis and sub-spindle capability. With one-eye on the aerospace sector further investment is currently underway, with an extension planned that will house five-axis machining centre capability.

One of the keys to Shannon Precision’s success is its ability to work with customers and ‘re-engineer’ processes to deliver a better solution and reduce manufacturing costs. This has seen it win back work that was initially offshored to low-cost economies during the financial crash. By making the process leaner and working with the customer to redesign the castings it won back this volume production. The customer also had the benefit of an extended logistics pipeline thereby improving workflow and reducing work in progress. In addition to high volume work Shannon Precision also undertakes research projects for customers, something that was made possible with the relocation to its current premises in 2014, managing director, Dominic Murphy explains: “Bringing all of our production under one roof after working from two separate units for a long time gave us a major advantage. We were able to support our prototyping activities with customers, improve our supply chain and work closer with customers on projects. The result is that turnover has doubled in the last three years. Our versatility in being able to machine five-off or 100,000 off with the same efficiency has been a distinct advantage in what we have been doing.”

Currently Shannon Precision’s work is an even split between machining materials such as cast iron, ductile iron and forgings, with the other half given over to production of components in hardened steel and more difficult to machine materials. With aerospace being part of the future for Shannon Precision the new extension will be dedicated to this type of work, keeping the more traditional work separate and creating the right environment for aerospace customers. In addition to the increase in floorspace the company has also made changes to its working practices to prepare for the new challenges that aerospace will bring, this includes gaining accreditation to AS9100 in January 2017, restructuring its shopfloor working practices with team leaders having greater responsibility, SQDC boards in place to monitor key metrics at cell level. All of which has generated a new energy and pride within the business.

“Over the past two years we have scrutinised what we do and how we do it, basically challenging ourselves to do things better. Our customers have to be comfortable in the knowledge that we are not charging them for our inefficiency and 12 months ago it would have been me pushing these changes, now the team leaders are enthused by what we are doing and everyone is involved. This is particularly encouraging as we introduce new systems, extend our ERP system and move further along the path of gaining SC21 Bronze accreditation with the changes we have made. There are few companies in Ireland with the capabilities that we have to take on projects involving multiple parts and the supply chain that goes with it. Backing this up we are committed to further investment in people and machinery in order to achieve our target annual growth of 15 per cent. Over and above this growth will be the new work that we are aiming to gain in the aerospace sector. Due to the robust processes already in place to meet the needs of our automotive customers, along with our hard metal machining experience, aerospace is seen as a natural fit for Shannon Precision Engineering. That is why we have become a member of the Emerald Aerospace cluster, as part of this we can work pull together with other manufacturing businesses in Ireland and offer an awful lot to the aerospace sector in respect to offering solutions to their needs and requirements.”

As part of this journey Shannon Precision has worked closely with WNT as a tooling partner for the past 11 years, during which time WNT’s applications experience has played a big part in cost reductions and process improvement. Typical of such projects is the production of a tension arm component, which is produced in volumes of 50,000/annum. Working with Shannon Precision’s Operations Manager Nikos Mylonas, on the rough and finish turning and boring operations on these components WNT’s Shane O’Donnell has improved productivity and reduced manufacturing costs by almost 50 per cent, equating to a weekly saving of €1662.52, with the biggest saving coming on the rough turning operation where machining costs reduced by over 75 per cent. “The partnership with WNT has been a mutual benefit scenario as, as we have grown so have they and the support that Jerry and Shane from WNT provide has been invaluable. Tooling is a big part of what we do and WNT’s willingness to work with us on projects at management and shopfloor level has paid dividends and forms an integral part of our drive for continuous improvement across the business. ” says Dominic Murphy.