AJ Cook chooses M.A. Ford Europe to cut metal and manufacturing cost

Cambridgeshire based sub-contract manufacturer, AJ Cook Engineering, is making extensive use of high-performance tooling from M.A. Ford Europe to meet customer quality, precision and timescale demands, while helping ensure production costs are optimised.

Originally set up in 2015 to service heritage engineering projects, the company expanded and now manufactures a diverse range of high precision components for major customers and brands in the automotive, aerospace, medical and scientific instrumentation sectors.

Whilst AJ Cook regularly manufacture products from aluminium, bronze and free cutting steels, their Haas milling and turn-milling machines are usually machining more exotic and harder materials, such as Inconel and various grades of stainless steel, where the company has developed detailed knowledge and expertise.

Joint Managing Director, Alistair Cook, explained: “The relationships we have with our customers is typically much closer than would be expected from a sub-contract manufacturer. In many cases we partner with them to improve products by advising on design changes and developing better machining solutions.”

He added: “It was through this process and the fact that we had just purchased our second Haas CNC machine, that M.A. Ford Europe was recommended to us, as we wanted to improve productivity and tool life, without compromising quality and finish, on some of the more demanding and difficult to machine materials that we use.”

Detailed machining trials we undertaken, where M.A. Ford’s coated solid carbide end mills, thread mills and turning tools were compared against AJ Cook’s existing tool solutions and other tooling brands. The results showed that not only were the company’s production times cut by half, but tool life was more than doubled, which had a significant impact on reducing the monthly tooling cost.

Although high productivity and lower manufacturing costs are key considerations for AJ Cook, which is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, maintaining strict quality standards throughout the business is a fundamental part of its manufacturing philosophy and vision. 

“We identified some time ago, that quality is the key driver and is not negotiable,” continued Alistair Cook. “As soon as you compromise on quality, everything else becomes a failure waiting to happen. Our approach is to put customer requirements at the top of the list and always select the best tooling solution for the job rather than the cheapest, as we’ve found that this is almost always proves to be a false economy.”

To support this approach, AJ Cook operates a detailed internal audit procedure that evaluates cutting tooling performance against a range of criteria, which include finished quality, reliability, productivity, surface finish, tool life, dimensional stability and cost, to identify where improvements can be made. This also provides key information when the company is evaluating and quoting on new projects, to ensure the optimal solution is proposed.

“There are a range of areas where M.A. Ford excels and their tooling is significantly ahead of anything we have evaluated for harder materials, but their strength goes beyond just the tooling,” added Alistair Cook.

“Their customer support is exceptional and their honesty about cutting tool performance and the results that can be achieved is refreshing. If they can improve our performance, they will do it and if they can’t, they’ll say so. Also, their technical team is always willing to work with us to explore and develop even more effective solutions, which is a great help to have that expertise on tap when we need it,” he concluded.