Janspeed, the Salisbury-based manufacturer of performance exhaust systems has long heritage going back to 1962, when the company was founded by Jan Odor as a performance engineering company specialising in tuning of Minis and Datsuns. As the company’s reputation grew it expanded its activities, moved to its current location and began working with major motorsport series, specifically the British Touring Car Championship, where it was the official partner to the Nissan (as Datsun became) Works team.
While engine tuning at this time was a major component of the company’s success, the work it was doing also included developing exhaust manifolds. The logical extension at the time was to extend this work to provide aftermarket performance exhausts to enthusiasts that wanted to maximise the potential of their cars. “This was how the business developed during the 90s, says Managing Director Mark Vaughan. “The work tended to be low volume, bespoke developments, with some standard exhaust products that were available off-the-shelf. However, about five years ago we took the strategic decision to refocus our attention and develop the business. We recognised that there were opportunities for the skills and knowledge that we had in exhaust design and development that could be applied to the prestige OEM market, with customers such as Lotus Cars, Jaguar Land Rover, Pro-Drive, Bentley and Morgan.”
To head up this change Janspeed brought in Dave Dawe as Engineering Manager whose challenge was not only to develop the new business, but also to manage the investment required in people, technology, machine tools, tooling and logistics. This investment was vital to meet the strict demands of the OEM automotive sector. “This change was not going to a happen overnight. Janspeed was happy to invest in the project, but we had to earn the money that we wanted to invest,” says Dave Dawe. “Therefore, the initial changes were to internal procedures, with the management team creating a wish list of equipment that we thought could take us to the next level in terms of efficiency and quality. On that list was an enhancement of our existing tube bending capability.”
Janspeed’s tube bending capacity at the time consisted of hydraulic bending machines which, while fine for the more traditional work produced by the company, were considered to be fairly basic and also required high levels of skills that were difficult to find. This drew Janspeed’s attention to all-electric benders with BLM and its BLM ELECT 80 CNC tube bending machine being the machine of choice. “The change of work and customers that we were seeing also brought with it regular schedules and good visibility of work. This in turn gave us greater flexibility when planning work and the multi-stack bending head of the BLM added to this flexibility,” says Dave Dawe. “We were also aware of the standards set by these prestigious new customers that we are working on and the environmental impact of the old hydraulic machines was also something that had to be addressed. The BLM ELECT 80 is much more environmentally friendly and what customers like these expect to see, with no oil leaks and reduced energy consumption.
The BLM ELECT 80 is capable of bending tube up to 80 mm diameter, at Janspeed, this is being achieved with 441 stainless steel tube, that its hydraulic benders could not achieve. The all-electric machine is also capable of generating multiple radii, utilising its nine axes of movement and up to 8 tools, while the multi-stack tool system allows multi- and variable-radius bending on the same tube in the same cycle. The machine and its control system also has the advantage of facilitating bends with very little straight between them, and even compound bends. Unlike hydraulic systems all of the machine’s critical setting parameters are set and managed using the Siemens touchscreen CNC, with accuracy controlled through use of absolute encoders that eliminate all conventional sensors, further advantages of this system are increased reliability, performance and reduced maintenance costs.
The addition of the BLM ELECT 80 at Janspeed was part of a major investment program undertaken by the company over the past few years, with over £1 million being spent in the past 18 months. The timing of any investment on this scale is always crucial and delivery of the BLM ELECT 80 coincided with a critical order from a customer: “BLM stepped into the breach and rather than deliver the machine at a time that would have been stressful they arranged for us to undergo training in Italy, on our machine and also offered to run our initial production out there at the same time. They went beyond the norm to make sure that the parts were produced, working late into the night and the weekend to make sure that we were happy and the customer received his parts when he expected them. The overall support we received from BLM in Italy and the UK was superb,” concludes Dave Dawe.