Your journey with Dutton Engineering

When you work with Dutton Engineering, you can expect the following:

• The first stage is your request for a price. Drawings may be sent by post, email or fax, or one of the directors will meet you to discuss the project and collect your drawings. It may be a 3-D computer generated drawing, a draughtsman’s drawing or a scribble on the back of an envelope. New customers are encouraged to visit Dutton’s factory at Sandy and to work with one of our CAD design team to discuss and approve the drawing(s). If your product is totally unique, it can be difficult for you to know where to start. Dutton offers a consultancy service (for an up-front fee) to work with you to find the best way forward and create a prototype. Under this arrangement the design will remain your property. At this stage, we’ll ask you how much you are expecting to pay and tell you if it can be done for that price. Of course, sometimes a job is so urgent that it has to be started immediately – many customers are happy to proceed with production and worry about the cost later, as they know that Dutton’s price will be fair. You can ask for a price with or without delivery, in case you wish to collect the finished item(s), whatever is most appropriate for you and your project.

• Once it’s approved by you, the drawing will be analysed using Dutton’s software. Any changes to the design or material, which may simplify the manufacturing process and reduce the unit cost, will be identified at this stage. It is also checked for clashes with other components. The other processes that are required for the item are also considered, as there may be cost savings available at Dutton. A typical example is a component that used to be sent to a dedicated laser cutting company, who polished the surfaces before it was received by Dutton for painting. Dutton pointed out that they could laser cut the item, polish it and paint it automatically as part of the same process at no extra cost, cutting down machine time and transport costs, as well as delivering the item more quickly.

• The quotation is now sent back to you, usually by email for speed. Due to material price volatility (stainless steel can go up or down by 10% or more in a single month), we work closely with you to minimise the effects of this volatility. As a large user deal with all the major mills, which allows us to pre-order much of the material you may need throughout the year at advantageous prices. If appropriate, we can make a decision to buy materials now, at today’s price, and keep supplying you at that rate until the material has to be re-ordered or your requirements change, thus minimising your exposure to ever changing material costs.

• When the price and finish are agreed, the purchase order, with the drawing attached, goes into the ‘orders pending’ file. The drawing is double-checked by another CAD operator for all jobs costing £100 or more. Dutton raises a job number and a job pack that includes the drawing and components list. A hard copy is put in job pack sent to the CAD team.

• They look at the job in relation to the current work that’s in progress work in progress and it’s integrated into the schedule. A virtual copy is filed on the computer as a backup. As the CAD drawing is now available to the operators, they can see both the CNC instructions and a 3-D visualisation of the item on-screen. If necessary they will convert the data to make it compatible with the Radan system so to can be used to program the cutting and/or folding machines.

• The stock of base materials including the actual sheet metal will be checked and allocated or ordered if necessary. Dutton buys competitively from three or four suppliers to ensure that you always benefit from the best possible price.

• The sheet metal is then processed on the appropriate laser cutting machine.

• After cutting, unless any preparatory work (countersinking, studding, tapping, deburring or graining) is required beforehand, the job will go on to the folding machines.

• Once folded, it enters the cell where a team will carry out any post-fold nutting or studding, spot welding, polishing and assembly.

• All employees are responsible for self-inspection to ensure that quality is built in and checked at every step in the production process. Often this happens automatically: for example, whenever an airgun is used to fix a stud, a torque test is carried out simultaneously. The team will also check every tenth item for compliance with the drawing.

• Although each component is self inspected as it is manufactured, an extra end of line final inspection is carried out as an added guarantee that you will receive a zero defect product that meets your quality standards in every respect. Many of our clients, as a result, have eliminated their own inspection departments, and regard Dutton’s end of line inspection as THEIR final inspection before the product is shipped. This again can save you considerable time and money.

• The item is then packed. Dutton sources made-to-order packaging and, for regular work, packaging is supplied on a Kanban basis.

• Delivery is usually by one of Dutton’s own vans, giving you the chance to talk to someone from the company with the item in front of you. Deliveries work to a zoning schedule to minimise cost, which means you may be contacted to see if an early or late delivery is acceptable. Otherwise, a special delivery will be arranged.