INVESTMENT in a £65,000 piece of machinery has allowed a small manufacturing company to halve its lead-times on new orders.

Durham Precision Engineering (DPE), in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, bought the Colchester Tornado as part of an investment programme in new machinery.

Until now the company, which designs and manufactures special purpose machinery and parts, had to use separate machines to turn and mill raw material.

Client support engineer Scott Flynn said "The Tornado allows us to turn and mill our products on a single machine for the first time, cutting down on time and labour.

"That makes it more efficient for us and less expensive, as well as far quicker for our customers."

He added: "We are trying to invest in one new piece of machinery every year and we will certainly be looking to get another Tornado in the future."

The machine also has a lights out programme, which allows it to be fed with a stream of raw material and left to work overnight, without being manned.

DPE, which is on the Heighington Park Industrial Estate, was formed in 1985.

Over the past 20 years, it has doubled its workforce to 36 employees and now has an annual turnover in excess of £1.75m.

Published: 09/08/2005