HMP Dartmoor is committed to providing a safe and educational environment where men can learn new skills to help them upon release. The prison offers a wide range of vocational opportunities for the residents, including furniture manufacture. 

“When prisoners first arrive they have a two-week induction during which we discuss their education, employment history and the type of work they’re able to do whilst with us,” explains Ben Fisher, industries manager at HMP Dartmoor. “Those with experience of the furniture industry or who appear to have a natural affinity or skill level are selected for the furniture workshop.

“The workshop is run independently by Public Sector Prison Industries (PSPI). It produces finished goods for the internal prison market and other Government departments. At Dartmoor this includes high volumes of timber frames for easy recreational chairs.

“Previously, we have manufactured these using a number of machines including planers and mortisers. The PSPI, however, wanted to improve productivity and decided to invest in a moulding machine. As you can imagine, procurement procedures for prisons are demanding, so it is testament to Homag that the PSPI decided to invest in its Mouldteq M-300 model.”

State-of-the-art technology 

The Mouldteq M-300 features variable feed and spindle speeds. From the second spindle onwards, speeds vary from 4000-8000rpm, providing optimal workpiece quality, with each spindle driven by its own motor providing the ideal power transmission.

Machine operation is via Homag’s intuitive powerTouch screen, which makes tasks straightforward and quick to learn. Its proLock spindle clamping system enables quick and easy tool changes whilst the adjustable pneumatic top feed rollers provide optimum contact pressure for different profiles and wood types.

The cast iron machine frame enables high precision production with minimum vibration and can handle workpieces from 300mm in length upwards. Each workpiece is automatically guided through the machine by the heavy-duty feed drive system and held in place by the pressure rollers. Homag’s Mouldteq M-300 also features a hardened chromed feeding table for long life. 

Training the trainers

Ben continues: “One of the challenges we have at HMP Dartmoor is training the men on the machines. It is important, therefore, that our two experienced in-house instructors get first-class training on any new equipment. With Homag that’s not an issue – the training it provides is excellent. Our instructors went to Castle Donington for this and are now able to train our men at the prison.

“I’m not a woodworking specialist, but I do know that compared to the other equipment we have, the Mouldteq M-300 is in another league. It will deliver several benefits to the prison and PSPI. 

“Firstly, it will significantly improve our ability to produce quality finished goods in volume. Secondly, it will upskill the workforce, improving operators’ understanding of modern manufacturing methods and better equipping them for the outside world.

The intelliMoulding app offers support for the easy and efficient operation of planing or profiling machines

“The other stand-out feature for me is the relationship with Homag. I’m an ex-military man and was fairly new in the post when the decision was made to invest in the Mouldteq. From the outset, Stuart Hinds, one of Homag’s installation team, has been fantastic. Nothing has been too much trouble – he has gone out of his way to explain how everything works, from the procurement and delivery process through to installation. 

“The pre-installation team recommended we had the floor in the workshop load tested to ensure it met requirements prior to machine delivery. On inspection, remedial work was recommended, so I obtained quotes for the work. 

“When the quotes came back at around £4000, I called Stuart to ask his advice. Without hesitation he expressed his concern and said that on his next visit he would sort it for us, which he subsequently did – at no charge."

“It’s the personal touches like this which make all the difference in a relationship. I’ve had to put my trust firmly in the people at Homag and each has given me the feeling that they are listening and doing what’s right for HMP Dartmoor, rather than trying to feather their own nests.

“When the machine was delivered I sent emails to both the delivery company and Homag to thank them for their professionalism. I don’t do that sort of thing lightly, so it speaks volumes for Homag. Stuart keeps in touch, ringing me now and then to make sure everything is in order. This level of service is unusual in this day and age,” concludes Ben.

For a demonstration or more information on Homag’s Mouldteq machines, contact Adele Hunt at Homag UK on 01332 856424.