Drill bit factory automation leaves holes in the competition

A retrospective case study about projects completed before 2012. Figures quoted and claims made were accurate at the time of completion. Patience & Nicholson is now called Sutton Tools (NZ).

Client: Patience & Nicholson

Industry: Manufacturing

Project: Providing control systems for drill grinding machines

For more than a decade, CNC Design has helped drill bit manufacturer Patience & Nicholson create and maintain a competitive edge through innovative industrial automation systems.

The client: Drill grinding machine builder and drill bit manufacturing company

Producing 60,000 drill bits for hand tools every day, New Zealand based Patience & Nicholson is a global supplier of high quality drill components, which are sold under its own brands and those of its OEM customers. The company not only produces the drill bits, but also builds the machines that manufacture them.

The challenge: Unique drill bit machine control systems

“In our business, we need to implement new ideas and build machines from scratch,” says Glenn Morgan, Engineering and Production Manager at Patience & Nicholson. “When CNC comes in to help us with machine control systems, they have to analyse the requirements and invent a new production method each time. From experience I can say that they do this very well – they always come through.” For the TSX grinder, for example, CNC had to develop special algorithms that allow the machine to cut specified drill point shapes. It also meets another challenge - that of having to be highly flexible in New Zealand’s low volume market – it can grind flutes, reliefs and points all on one machine”.

CNC’s solution: Siemens control systems for industrial process automation

“We’re working very closely with CNC – with our specialists on the mechanical side and CNC’s experts handling the control systems,” explains Glenn. “It works perfectly every time. Should a problem arise, we can get on the phone to them anytime and they’ll find a solution. They communicate well with us and are very good to deal with.”

Glenn describes CNC as a trusted supplier that goes above and beyond the call of duty with everything they do. “We never have to worry about their products. They always do a very good job and deliver what we need. The skills and abilities of their staff are second to none.”

“By using Siemens, CNC offers some of the best technology you can get,” says Glenn. “We’ve found their products to be extremely reliable and user-friendly. In fact, we’re thinking about changing most, if not all, of our control systems over to CNC and Siemens. They’re far superior to other providers in the marketplace.”

The result: More flexible automation and significant productivity improvement

Having worked with CNC for over 10 years, Glenn believes that the company helps businesses become more internationally competitive. “Our machines are now arguably the best in the world,” he says. “They are flexible, so we can reset them quickly to perform different tasks. They’re also very easy to handle, so our productivity has improved dramatically.”