Omnitool Enhances Production and Sustainability through Digital Upgrades

by Anna

Omnitool, a family-run precision engineering firm based in Irvine, is embarking on a path of growth and sustainability, driven by the implementation of new digital tools and expertise. Specializing in the oil and gas, renewables, and nuclear sectors, the company plans to expand into new markets, create job opportunities, and reduce emissions.

With funding support of £188,000 from Innovate UK, Omnitool is collaborating with the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), operated by the University of Strathclyde as part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC). Together, they aim to develop the skills necessary to implement the digital upgrade, anticipating a 50% reduction in machine idle time and a 10% increase in production capacity.


Omnitool’s substantial investment of over £2.5 million in advanced multi-axis computer numerical control (CNC) machine tools has positioned it as one of the most technically capable machining facilities in the UK. This investment enables the production of high-value, technically challenging products for industries such as aerospace and energy.


The Knowledge Transfer Partnership involves collaboration between Omnitool, NMIS experts, and a qualified graduate. It will focus on implementing offline programming techniques and providing employees with coding skills training. The company is also in the process of recruiting a digital manufacturing lead to support the scaling of its automation initiatives.


Digital twins, computer-aided design (CAD), and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) will be employed by Omnitool’s engineers to program machines offline, utilizing simulations to prepare tool patterns outside the machines, thereby minimizing disruption and enhancing efficiency.


The project builds on capability and process mapping activities conducted by NMIS during the Advanced Manufacturing Challenge Fund’s Supply Chain Aerospace program in the previous year.

Mark McKell, operations director at Omnitool, highlighted the increasing demand for their high-quality, complex machined components and stressed the need for efficient production. The transition to a high-tech digital approach will expand the company’s capacity, facilitating growth and market diversification, particularly in aerospace.

Over the next three years, Omnitool aims to introduce the new digital approach across 90% of its production centers, with an expectation of creating ten new roles. The shift to offline programming is not only expected to boost capacity but also contribute to sustainability, potentially reducing waste and cutting emissions by up to 12 tonnes of CO2e annually.

The processes and guidelines developed during the project will be shared with other manufacturing businesses, offering transferable instructions to help them acquire the knowledge and skills needed to embrace digital processes. The adoption of digital technologies, especially among smaller manufacturing companies, is often hindered by complexity, cost, and risk.

Daniele Marini, supply chain and operational transformation lead at NMIS, expressed optimism about the integration of offline programming in traditional industrial settings, citing its potential for significant improvements in performance and efficiency. Omnitool’s transformation results and guidelines are expected to inspire other manufacturing businesses to unlock additional capacity through digital upgrades.

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