For six decades, NCMT has been innovating at the cutting edge of industrial engineering applications. In the last year, the company has overcome numerous challenges as one of the major players in aerospace, automotive and medical machinery production. As Managing Director, Jonathan Smart, details: “2023 started out really positively, with strong sales across a range of markets. However, in our industry, the second half of the year is always more competitive. We’ve had to work even harder over the past few months to get those investments and maintain our success.
“Over the past year, our strategy has been about continuing to consolidate our position by reinvesting in the NCMT infrastructure. That includes a remodeled showroom with a dedicated engineering hall at the NCMT Coventry Technical Centre, and the installation of numerous charge-points to support our fleet of electric vehicles.”
This year also marks the 60th anniversary of NCMT’s partnership with global manufacturing partner, Makino. “Maintaining strong partnerships at all levels of the business has definitely contributed to our ongoing success. A large number of our colleagues have been working with their counterparts in Japan and Germany for decades, which builds trust and friendship. This kind of relationship is vital when there is an issue to resolve, or knowledge to be shared. Every member of staff at NCMT is essential to the continued success of the business and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank every one of them both past and present,” affirms Jonathan.
The people behind NCMT are central to the company’s long-lasting success. Much of the current leadership team have had their professional journey shaped by NCMT’s core values and culture, as Technical Services Director, Philip Downey, explains: “I joined NCMT as a Field Service Engineer in July 1990; my job back then was simply travelling around the UK installing and supporting Makino and Okuma products. After about eight years, I joined the Service Support Team in the office, dealing with both customer and engineer queries. Around 2000, I joined the Project Management Department, coordinating machine and automation projects around the UK.
“During the early 2000s, NCMT and Makino developed, in conjunction with Rolls-Royce and Tyrolit, a specialist grinding machine for producing turbine blades and this led onto a separate Grinding Division within NCMT. I joined the Grinding Division around 2005, and at the same time NCMT was granted permission by Makino to sell the grinding machines in Europe, which proved very successful. In 2019 I was invited to be part of an MBO to take over the company from the previous management, and I am now responsible for the service and spares side of the business, comprising 45 staff located across the country, both office-based and field service engineers.”
NCMT cares about connecting people, products and ideas. Building strong relationships internally and externally has allowed the business to thrive for 60 years, so it comes as no surprise that these values are part of the company strategy heading into 2024. “We really want to spend this year building up our partnerships with new and existing customers. Fortunately for us there are lots of upcoming opportunities for NCMT to catch up with its client base.
“In February, we will be hosting an ‘Open House’ in Coventry. The event is centered around our entry level Okuma GENOS machines which will be a forerunner to MACH 2024. We look forward to showcasing the new Okuma OSP-P500 control, the Multus U3000 and GENOS M460-5AX machines alongside the GENOS machines. Representing Makino’s portfolio of five-axis machines will be the N2-5XA and DA300 automation package, as well as wire and sinker EDM units. The stand will also include a demonstration of Blue Photon work-holding, and automation solutions from Cellro. It’ll be another busy week, and we are looking forward to seeing lots of existing and new customers,” Jonathan enthuses.
In its upcoming showcase event, NCMT will offer an exclusive preview of its exciting new product range. This year will see a variety of cutting-edge new systems added to the company’s already extensive portfolio, as Jonathan reveals: “Okuma has just launched the latest generation of the OSP-P500 control. This updated version includes upgraded features, such as a digital twin that futureproofs the new machine and control designs.
“Okuma exhibited the world premiere of the MB-5000HII horizontal machining center, the multitasking machine, Multus B300II, and the LB3000EXIII horizontal lathe machine, during EMO 2023. We will be rolling out the new control range to our customers in the UK throughout 2024.
“Furthermore, NCMT has just agreed to a new partnership with Tritone, which utilizes its Moldjet powder-free Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology for metal and ceramic applications at an industrial scale and speed. This is a very exciting opportunity for NCMT, as we will soon be able to add groundbreaking new AM technology to our well-established range of conventional machining solutions.”
Staying ahead of the curve has helped NCMT establish itself as an industry forerunner. Automation technology will no doubt play a huge role in the future of manufacturing, as Jonathan discusses: “Automation is an important part of our strategy moving forward. We have recently employed Philip Cattaneo to head up NCMT’s Automation division. His role is to enhance our established reputation for combining automation solutions with our complete range of machine tools. His background and expertise are the perfect fit for NCMT and its customers. Through this appointment, we will be able to enhance our offering and continue to provide bespoke solutions that meet the needs of each client’s unique project.”
Moving into the new year, Jonathan discusses how NCMT plans to strategically overcome the challenges it has faced in recent months: “It’s no secret that economic and political factors in the UK have an impact on the manufacturing industry. The timing of investment seems to be impacted more than ever by macro factors, which combined with increasingly complex approval structures all delay decision making. To counter this, NCMT has increased its stock holding across the range of Makino EDM, and Okuma machines, helping minimize lead times once the investment has been approved.
“To build greater stability within the business, NCMT has always supported a wide range of manufacturing sectors, including aerospace, automotive and medical. This ensures that we are not overly reliant upon a single sector. This was particularly evident with the aerospace industry during the pandemic. We’ve learned important lessons from that experience, and the company is now strategically focused on spreading its investment evenly across a variety of sectors in the years ahead.
“We are already four short years into our tenure of managing NCMT. Our plan for the next five-to-ten years is to build greater resilience and sustainability within the company. Our goal is to ensure that sales increase, so that we can continue benefiting from the strong foundation the company founder set down 60 years ago. A few years without pandemics, global supply chain issues, and the ongoing influence of Brexit would help the management team enjoy the next five years a lot more. But whatever challenges we are faced with, I know that we have the people, experience and expertise to come out on top.”