Founded in 2017 following a merger of the metal fabrication department of Sunseeker and Cooney Marine, Poole-based Cooney South has seen significant growth in its business supplying high-end superyacht manufacturers in the UK with precision stainless steel and aluminium components. This has been achieved through investment in machinery and people, with its latest purchase, a Timesavers 22 series WW dry finishing and deburring machine, providing a solution to two challenges being faced by the company.
The first of these challenges was a drop in quality of the polished stainless and aluminium sheet material being supplied to Cooney South. “With the quality of raw material falling off the result was that when after laser cutting, we were having to scrap components due to the finish not meeting customer expectations”, says James Cooney, Managing Director. “At the same time, we were under pressure to take quality to the next level, in terms of polished finish, by our customers in the superyacht sector.” This led to an increase in hand polishing of components and delays, to overcome this it was recognised that some automation was required. As its sister company Cooney Marine was already operating a Timesavers machine at its Kettering facility, the initial plan was to transfer work between the two locations. However, after further discussion the decision was taken to invest in a second machine, this then led to evaluation of what exactly was required with input from Cooney South management, shopfloor staff and the expertise of Ellesco.
“The Timesavers machine at Cooney Marine was a single head variant and as we wanted to increase throughput, we initially looked at buying a three-head version of the Timesavers 22 series”, says Chris Sleet, Production Manager, Cooney South Ltd. “When we visited Ellesco to carry out trials on our own components we were drawn to the two-head machine and, after experimenting with a variety of belts with different grit sizes, we discovered that the twin-head machine was more than twice as productive as the single-head at Kettering. It was also much less expensive than the three-head variant so would save a considerable amount of money. Not only that, but with the twin-head being in stock could be delivered quickly to meet an urgent order.
The arrival of the Timesavers 22 series at Cooney South enabled the company to meet the uplift in quality requested by its customers, 99 per cent of which are in the high-end marine sector, with products including many of the visual elements on superyachts, many of which require a mirror finish. The two-head machine installed at Cooney South by Ellesco has a 900 mm wide table, which feeds parts past two abrasive belts, each of which can be fitted with differing grit sizes to meet the specific finish requirements of individual components. The result is that quality and consistency of the sheet coming off the Timesavers machine minimises the need for hand polishing. Furthermore, the speed of processing components is more than double the capability of the single-head machine installed at Cooney Marine and as a result of this additional capability and capacity Cooney South is opening up new opportunities to expand the business outside of its traditional customer base, with architectural clients coming on board.
“Apart from the initial requirement to meet a customer order, the main driver for this investment, and others that we have made and continue to make is to target growth and our willingness to invest is what customers want to see,” says James Cooney. “The combined resources of Cooney South and Cooney Marine mean we can take flat plate from raw material, through laser cutting to mirror finish to superyacht standards, effectively under one roof. We have positioned ourselves, through investment in people and equipment to become one of, if not, the biggest suppliers of fabrication and polished products in Europe, in the sector we operate in.”