An article published September 2015 – www.metalworkingnews.co.za

Warren’s Way celebrates 21 year milestone

The ‘coming of age’ is celebrated when an individual has their 21st birthday and they are handed the imaginary ‘key to the front door’. The symbolism is that you have officially reached adulthood and are now responsible enough to open the door to maturity. All over the world people still celebrate this tradition.

Warren Petersen, Managing Director of Warren’s Way Engineering, certainly showed maturity 21 years ago when he established his company. It was even more remarkable that it happened to be the same year that he turned 21, and qualified as a fitter and turner.

“Both my grandfather and father were qualified artisans and had started their own businesses. I wanted to follow in their footsteps,” said Petersen.

“From the age of seven I started visiting my Dad’s machine shop during school holidays and was put to work sweeping the floors, to earn my pocket money. That was at 20 cents an hour.”

“The first few years of operation of Warren’s Way Engineering were tough in that I did not want to let anybody down, least of all myself. I turned one of the offices into a bedroom and often used to sleep at the factory so that I was able to set the machines for the night shift, and along with two other operators we made sure we got the workout, which mainly consisted of hydraulic cylinder components that simply required turning operations.”

Since its formation in June 1994 the company has steadily grown into a recognized machine shop specialising in finished precision components. Customers operate in varying fields in industry. This includes mining, electrical, transport and general engineering. The components machined are too numerous to mention, however to highlight some these include chain, pump and gearbox components, bushes, bearing housings, drive shafts, electrical motor components, air tool components and mining spares, for a variety of underground machinery.

The components vary in size and weight and although the company is restricted by the size of their machines, they can be assisted by associated family companies that are located in the same complex as Warren’s Way.

Warren’s Way Engineering now has 11 Haas machines on their shopfloor. These include six vertical machining centres with a work envelope from 1016 x 508 x 635mm to 1270 x 660 x 635mm, all with fully integrated 4th axis capabilities, and three Haas EC-1600 horizontal machining centres each with built in 4th axis rotary tables allowing for simultaneous 4-axis milling.

The lathe department has a range of CNC lathes. Chuck sizes range from 6” to 15”, the length between centres from 350mm up to 1000mm and all have live tooling. All CNC machines have their own Renishaw probe.

The company machines most materials and machines from solid or castings. Castings are supplied by the client or the OEM company they deal with.

Central to the company’s development is that, in the words of its owner Warren Petersen: “In order to survive in today’s competitive marketplace, general engineering workshops must find ways to cut costs and increase productivity – all without sacrificing quality. People don’t like to accept second best at all. You have to exceed the customer’s expectations, or they’re going to go somewhere else.”

“There aren’t many options for companies our size. If you’re going to stay busy, and continue to meet the customer’s needs, you have to invest in new technology and equipment. It’s like continuing your education. For small companies, the future depends on modernisation.”

“CNC turning has been the mainstay of the business and will continue to be so going forward. However, in 1995 we realised that if we wanted to grow the business we would need to offer more and different machining operations. This is when we purchased our first machining centre.”

“Reducing set-up time and machining time is a constant challenge but ultimately a must for any machine shop.”

With this in mind the company has continued to invest in its machining capacity with most machines offering 4th axis capabilities, and has recently purchased a second Haas 5-axis machine machining centre.

Wisdom in maturity
“Although we are a relatively young company – this is our 21st anniversary year – growing with our customers and keeping up to date with technology has always been our motto. We also realize that, although machines are important in our endeavors, it is the people that work here and how we treat them that make it successful. We have matured over the years and will continue to do so,” concluded Petersen.

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