On 1st August, Sevenoaks-based specialist subcontractor Wines launched its new division, Wines Medical. This move reflects the increasing importance of the medical sector to the company, both in terms of current workload and planned future development.

Wines, which has over 20 years experience solving the most demanding of manufacturing challenges, has built an enviable reputation as a valuable “Early Development Partner”, offering its blue-chip customers the high level engineering skills that design-out costs and design-in high speed production capability at an early stage of a manufacturing project. These skills are particularly vital when developing medical products as, once the product and its production methodology have been validated, they become effectively “cast in stone” and cannot readily be amended to improve manufacturability.

Managing Partner, Nik Tipler, explains the reasons behind the launch of Wines Medical; “Although we were already very active in the medical market we wanted to increase our focus on the sector, further developing our operation in ways that are specifically geared to suit our medical customers. It is when we work directly with customers’ design, engineering and quality teams at the critical design to validation phase of a project that we can add the greatest value. Our vast development and production experience in the medical, aerospace and power generation industries enables us to see the possibility for subtle changes in design that can have a huge effect on manufacturability and therefore on production costs. If the design is frozen before we get involved, these cost saving opportunities are lost forever.”

Two effects of this decision have been, firstly, the recent appointment of Craig Bluett, to strengthen the medical engineering team. Craig brings with him considerable medical experience including project managing large-scale, high value, engineering projects for critical medical components. Secondly the company, which is already accredited to ISO9000/2000, is now also working towards ISO13485 – the Quality Management System regulating medical devices.
Quality has always been very high on the list of priorities for Wines, which in 2004 won the prestigious GTMA World Class Continuous Improvement Award, and which employs a full-time Quality Manager, Graham Lindsey, to ensure that the quality systems of the organisation, including validation of drawings and document control, are of the highest standard. The fact that Wines can count companies such as Gyrus Medical, BAe, Rolls-Royce and Siemens among its customer-list is a tribute to its dedication to quality systems.

Processes alone, however, are not enough and Wines purpose-built facility contains a range of the latest engineering equipment representing an investment in excess of £2 million. This includes high speed-5-axis machining centres, automated state-of-the-art EDM wire, sink and hole drilling machines, which enable the company to engineer unusual, intricate and highly accurate work in extremely short lead times. The company also has considerable expertise in lapping techniques, and has lapped 100mm long stainless steel components within 2 microns of parallelism and flatness.

The company is already working on the development of a highly confidential implant design and also building on Wines’ existing medical experience, for example the development and manufacture of small electrodes for use in combating prostate cancer. These skills together with the ability of Wines Medical to manufacture low to medium volumes of components with high precision, repeatability and consistency will be key to its success in the growing, and international, medical market.




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