CNC machine tools and sheet metal machinery
a tall order to undertake

A ‘tall order’ to undertake

UK outdoor lighting specialist benefits from investment in new cutting and forming equipment

CU Phosco Lighting, formerly known as Concrete Utilities, is the leading — and longest-established — outdoor lighting group in the UK.

The company, which has its headquarters in Ware (Hertfordshire) and plants in Cleckheaton (Yorkshire) and Coleford (Gloucestershire), designs and manufactures ‘exterior lighting luminaries’, floodlights, lighting columns and masts. Ranging in height from 3 to 60m, its lighting columns and masts can be seen on motorways, at airports, and in shopping centres, housing estates and sports stadiums around the world.

Established in 1923 and still family-owned, CU Phosco Lighting offers a turn-key package from design to installation. Its range includes a variety of column types — high, tubular, octagonal, tapered, aluminium, mid-hinged and basehinged.

The Cleckheaton factory is dedicated to the production of high masts up to 60m tall (mainly for lighting applications at airports, seaports and motorways) and mobile-phone masts. Stadiumlighting masts, for example, comprise a 20-sided structure of continuously tapered sections and are designed to withstand high wind speeds. Moreover, many lighting systems feature a winching system that allows the lighting ring to be lowered to ground level for maintenance. CU Phosco Lighting has won many awards and continues to be involved in high-profile projects at home and abroad — including all the UK’s major airports, especially Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted. Recent projects also include the supply of 19 45m-high masts for Tangiers seaport, full lighting replacement at Southampton docks and a number of contracts in the Arabian Gulf.

Pressure to purchase

Despite many offers from building companies to buy the Cleckheaton site for development, the company’s management was committed to continuing as the UK’s sole producer of specialist columns and masts, serving global markets (except the USA). However, to fulfil this ambition, CU Phosco Lighting needed new machinery to replace 40-year-old press braking equipment that was only capable of processing material in the thickness range 4-5mm: mobile-phone masts, for example, have to be made from material that is 8mm thick.

Cleckheaton’s factory manager, Eric Grieve, CU Phosco Lighting, formerly known as Concrete Utilities, is the leading — and longest-established — outdoor lighting group in the UK. said: “When I started to look around in publications such as Machinery Market, other trade press and on-line offerings for machinery that would meet our requirements — especially for applications up to 6m long — I thought there would be a comprehensive selection of new and used machines to choose from. That turned out not be the case, but our retired service engineer recommended some companies that might be able to help. The list included Axe & Status, offering the Durma range of fabrication equipment, which is made in Turkey. This provided the ideal solution.”

Mr Grieve needed a UK-based supplier that could respond quickly to any service support issues. Moreover, the new press brake had to meet his bending and capacity requirements within a footprint defined by limitations in factory space and floor loadings.

Although CU Phosco Lighting was initially considering only a new press brake, Milton Keynes-based Axe & Status Machinery Ltd ( came up with a turn-key solution that included a new 6m guillotine within the lighting manufacturer’s allocated budget. “We were impressed by the company’s honest approach; it also ensured that we would get the machines we needed delivered within a short timeframe — machines tailored to our exact requirements and without options that we would never need. Moreover, the equipment we were offered gave value for money, and a flexible approach to our needs. This was essential, as demand from the mobile telecoms sector, both at home and abroad, accounts for 60% of current mast production.”

Comprehensive capablity

With its 7m capacity and ability to bend materials up to 10mm thick, the Durma AD-R 70-400 was well up to the job of processing 20-sided tapered masts. This machine has 6.1m between the side frames, an overall height of 3.5m, a throat depth of 750mm and a motorised back-gauge system that is driven by ballscrews and runs on linear guides (the back-gauge fingers are height-adjustable). Ease of operation is helped by four support arms (with tilting stops) that are mounted on a linear guide rail system designed to allow ‘finger-tip’ lateral adjustment (as required by the bend length of the part). They are also equipped with side gauges for the fast, easy and accurate feeding of parts. Tooling is retained by the European clamping system, and there is a motorised crowning system. Control is provided by Durma’s DT10 CNC system, which features a colour touch-screen and 2-D graphics.

Meanwhile, the Durma VS 6013 variablerake guillotine bought by CU Phosco Lighting has a maximum cutting length of 6,100mm and accommodates material up to 13mm thick. Its D-Touch 7 touch-screen CNC system controls the motorised blade-gap adjustment (from the top beam), the variable cutting length and the rake-angle adjustment. Other features include a ball-type transfer system and a ballscrew-driven back-gauge with a range of 1,000mm. Both Durma machines were delivered and installed earlier this year, just three months after the initial enquiry. Each mast section produced by the Durma machines comprises two 6m-long half sections — each with nine 18deg bends — that are then welded together. Completed sections are subsequently slid over similar sections (to give the overall required height) and held in place by friction; there is no need for fixings or bolts.

Mr Grieve said: “We retain complete control of all processes in-house; nothing is outsourced. We have an enviable reputation for meeting our customers’ exacting demands of quality and time-scales throughout all aspects of a project, and I am confident that the Durma machinery will serve us well in the years ahead.

Reproduced from Machinery Market - 2nd November 2017

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