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Engineering firm invests amid fish farming boom. The huge growth in fish farming in recent years is proving good news for a small precision engineering company based near Spalding.

A one-off job a decade and a half ago has turned into a major stream of business for Channing Engineering, which employs eight people at its workshop in the village of Pinchbeck.

Run by Colin Channing, the company makes parts that are in high demand for fish farming businesses in Norway, the Faroe Islands and in Canada. As a result, more than half of its work is now exported and, unlike many currently, the firm has no worries about the implications of Brexit with all of its main sales destinations outside the EU.

With business continuing to grow due to its reputation for quality and reliability, Mr Channing and his team have decided to replace one of their Bridgeport machining centres, working with the Engineering Technology Group (ETG) to purchase a new Hardinge GX710S.

“The previous machine was a highly reliable piece of kit, so it made sense to get another Bridgeport,” Mr Channing points out.

“It has been a while since we’ve had to replace a piece of equipment and it was the first time we have worked with ETG. Everything went very smoothly and, when any issues did crop up, we received a rapid response, which is just what you want with a significant investment.”

The Bridgeport Hardinge GX710S is a 3-axis vertical machining centre with 20 tools on an ATC carousel and a single spindle speed of up to 12,000rpm. Table size is 800 x 400mm and the X/Y/Z-axes offer 710/400 and 430mm.

The machine has been equipped with Siemens control to provide optimum accuracy and allow for fast transfer of data.

Mr Channing adds: “We are very busy at the moment, with most of our work involving short runs of a few dozen parts off a time, or one-off prototyping. Whilst we cover a wide range of different industries, including components for racing cars, fish farming equipment is still the biggest single source of work for us. The first piece of work we got, probably 15 years ago, was for Norway and we found we were quoting £100 a piece less than the other firms they were talking to.

“We now make our own version of some components and, as an industry, it now accounts for around 60% of our workload, supplying customers in Norway, the Faroe Islands and Canada. It has just snowballed.

“And there’s no sign of a slowdown. Fish farming has been the fastest growing sector of the food industry for the last two decades and global farmed fish production is expected to expand by a third by 2026.”

Jon Mannion, ETG regional sales manager at Engineering Technology Group, continues: “This machine comes with Siemens’ ShopMill software and has a small footprint, which suited the company. Colin was already aware of the brand’s reputation for speed and reliability and he was impressed with the build quality,

“The added attractions of this particular machine was a 12,000rpm direct drive spindle, rather than the usual speed of 10,000rpm. Instead of an umbrella tool change it also has a side arm with 20 tools and comes fitted with a chip conveyor.

“It ticked all the boxes for Channing Engineering and we were able to get it delivered very quickly as the firm needed it in operation as soon as possible.”

Engineering Technology Group

Channing Engineering