In the first of our series of interviews with members of the Lomas Engineering team, we caught up with Ross Lomas, CNC Tool Grinding Cell Leader.
I’ve been working at Lomas Engineering for 16 years now. I came here straight from college and I’ve never worked anywhere else. I started off getting my hands dirty and learning the ropes, and eventually I worked my way up to running my own section.
I manage several of the CNC tool and cutter grinding machines. There are a number of them in our section, along with a small team of operators, and I have an overview of everything that’s going on across the CNC section.
At Lomas, we specialise in manufacturing bespoke cutting tools, mainly for the aerospace sector although we do work with customers from other industries too.
We start off with a steel bar, or carbide rod, depending on the material required. If we’re using steel, the bar goes into the turning and milling machines first, to be cut down to the rough size and shape needed.
It then gets heat-treated so that it’s hard enough for grinding. Once that’s done, the material comes over to us for grinding. We programme our machines with the customer’s design, and we end up with the finished product.
It then goes on to be inspected and quality checked, before being packed up and shipped out to the customer, who could be anywhere in the world.
No two days are the same at Lomas. Sometimes our customers will call us with a brief. We create their design using 3D modelling software and send it back to the customer. The design will be tweaked until the customer is happy and then it gets machined.
Other times, we’ll be working with long-standing customers on products we’ve created many times before.
We might be machining smaller quantities of around 5-10 pieces, or quantities over 100 pieces. Bigger orders are usually set up to run overnight, as we only need to be there for the setup.
The best thing about the job is creating high-quality, precision-engineered products. We’ve invested in top of the range machines – and although it’s a phrase that gets bandied about a lot – our techniques are genuinely cutting edge. No one does tool and cutter grinding quite like Lomas – it’s what sets us apart. We’re creating high performance, bespoke products for the most demanding customers in the world, including most of the major aerospace manufacturers. Our products are pretty far from the standard, off-the-shelf stuff that you might get elsewhere. As you can tell, we take genuine pride in what we do.
The hardest thing is making sure we get every job 100% accurate, 100% of the time. There’s no room for error in the aerospace sector. Everything has to be absolutely spot on, down to a fraction of a millimetre. But we’re the best at what we do, which is why our customers trust us to deliver what they need.
Lomas is a great place to work, although I don’t have anywhere else to compare it to! It’s a family business and the culture is friendly, laid-back and inclusive.
Outside of work, I like to go to football matches, supporting my beloved Sheffield Wednesday – at least I did pre-Covid! I’m looking forward to being able to go with friends again soon, not to mention going out to eat, drink and socialise.