The acquisition of a Hardinge GS 200 multi-axis turning centre by kit car designer and manufacturer Great British Sports Cars has been a major milestone towards its goal of being self sufficient for the supply of many small turned components.
Based in Boughton near Newark in Nottinghamshire, GBS has been in business for some 4 years and is well known among enthusiasts for its ‘Zero’ kit car. As with all kits it is based on what is known as a donor vehicle – in the Zero’s case it is currently a Ford Sierra – but the tubular space frame chassis and a great many of the components that make up the final kit are traditionally sourced from a wide cross section of suppliers.
This in itself can create supply problems as company director Keith Bird explains.
“There is nothing worse than shipping an order to a customer with a number of key components missing and therefore potentially causing a delay in assembling the kit. We recognised this from an early stage – it appears to be a common cause of complaint throughout the kit car industry – so we set about remedying the situation.”
As a consequence GBS has now bought ‘in house’ a very high percentage of its manufacturing and fabricating operations and with the arrival of the Hardinge machine in early Spring 2011, production of turned parts will be increasingly under their control.
“We offer a very flexible service to our customers and this reflects on the way we supply key components. For example we might previously have had to purchase simple items such as bushes in quite large batch quantities. Now with our own machine tool on the premises, we have total control of the manufacturing and can produce quite small quantities in a very short time span if necessary.”
The GBS Zero offers exceptional value for money and GBS has recently introduced a new wide bodied version that is proving very popular. Every aspect of the kit is available from the company with all the key components from the donor car (such as brakes) completely re-conditioned to ‘as new’ standards. If necessary, GBS can part or completely assemble a car to a customer’s specific requirements.
Manufacturing on the GS200 is under the control of Jonathon Hunter who, on his own admission, is learning as he goes along. That said he had produced the first component from the GS200 within a week of it being commissioned.
The machine tool is equipped with the very latest Siemens 828D machine control which, among its many features, offers simpler set up and very powerful CAD functions. The machine is fed via a Hydrafeed bar feeder.
“It’s not an understatement to say the Hardinge machine will play a major role in our future progression as a business,” states Keith Bird. There is a significant market for these types of cars in the leisure and sports market and more and more cars are being shipped overseas. Therefore we have to offer the most professional back up possible and that necessitates investment in top rate production equipment and processes. We believe we have a winner with Hardinge.”