While manufacturing technology is advancing like a cheetah on steroids, there are some machine brands that buck all the trends and remain iconic simply because of their longevity and reliability. In the grinding world, one such marque is Jones & Shipman (J&S), now supported globally from a spares and service perspective by Lutterworth, Leicestershire-based DF Precision Machinery. Dave Tudor reports.
Mike Duignan and Alan Fisher are the owners of DF Precision and both have a longstanding pedigree in grinding technology that spans decades. Indeed, the duo were at the heart of the Jones & Shipman Hardinge management team when Hardinge acquired J&S back in 2010. For both individuals, the association represents the best part of a lifetime’s work – they served their apprenticeships with the company back in the 1980s.
DF Precision Machinery has been trading for just over a year now and was set-up by Messrs Duignan and Fisher following a decision made by Hardinge to call time on Jones & Shipman manufacturing and its UK facility, allowing it to focus instead on its other grinding brands – Kellenberger, Voumard, Tschudin, Usach and Hauser.
This was all part of a wider plan by Hardinge to consolidate its manufacturing facilities around the world to increase efficiency, reduce costs and streamline operations. However this strategic move created a problem as Mike Duignan explains.
“At the time, Hardinge realised that J&S machines would still need to be supported globally,” he says. “The brand has been around for over a century, is well-established and there are literally thousands of machines still in use so there’s a significant demand for spares and service.
“Additionally, there were other challenges that needed to be solved: Hardinge needed an outlet to represent its other grinding brands in the UK, as did Okamoto – a Japanese grinding machine manufacturer that we’ve represented independently in the UK for years.
“The rest is history,” he adds. “Hardinge, although it still owns the J&S brand, transferred liability for all Jones & Shipman global contracts to us along with the support for J&S spares and service globally; we set-up exclusive agency rights to sell and support their other grinding products – Kellenberger, Hauser, Voumard and Tschudin – in the UK; and we were able to maintain our existing relationship with Okamoto for their extensive range of surface, cylindrical, vertical and rotary grinding machines. DF Precision Machinery was conceived with those three objectives in mind.”