BQ Newsletter

Sky's the limit for

Wednesday 28 March 2012

A NORTH East training provider is helping its apprentices to reach for the stars, after their employer was given the go ahead on a groundbreaking telescope project.

S.W. Durham Training Ltd (SWDT) is working with eight apprentices from Newton Aycliffe manufacturers Durham Precision Engineering Ltd (DPE) and sister company DPE Automotive Ltd, as the companies begin work to design and test components for a billion pound programme to build the largest and most sensitive radio telescope ever.

SWDT, based in Newton Aycliffe, works with clients including Nifco UK Ltd and Cummins, and is helping DPE Ltd’s three apprentices and five apprentices from DPE Automotive to develop their skills as they start work on the project for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.  The SKA telescope, which will be built in either Southern Africa or Australia, will be so powerful it will be capable of detecting signs of extra terrestrial life as well as revealing details of the history of the universe from the Big Bang onwards.

SWDT has been supporting bosses at DPE and DPE Automotive to ensure the companies’ apprentices undertake tailored training at the state-of-the-art CORE advanced engineering and manufacturing centre, equipping them with the skills they need to deliver the project.  SWDT is a specialist in the training of apprentices for manufacturing and engineering businesses.

Charl Erasmus, operations manager at SWDT said: “Manufacturing has changed beyond measure from the grey, blue-collar industry it used to be, and DPE and its sister company DPE Automotive are great examples of highly technical businesses that have the skills and expertise to be involved in really cutting edge manufacturing projects worldwide.

“We have worked with both companies for many years now, and it has been fantastic to support them with the training of their employees for such an unusual project.  We’re delighted to be doing our bit to help.”

DPE Ltd, carries out high precision machining and fabrication, as well as producing tools, jigs and fixtures for a range of sectors, from food and drink to oil and gas and pharmaceuticals.

The company was recently awarded the contract on the development phase of the project with SKA, with build beginning in 2015 until 2020.  The technical nature of the project meant that the firm engaged its sister company DPE Automotive – which specialises in the production of brackets, pressings and complex assemblies that are used in cars - to assist.

Geoff Mason, customer support engineer at DPE Automotive Ltd, said: “I myself trained with SWDT many years ago, before leaving to go to university and the course they provided was a fantastic foundation for me to begin my career.

“Our apprentices who are undertaking courses in tool making, maintenance, production planning, technical engineering, purchasing and accountancy, have been given fantastic support from SWDT, and it is great for them that they will have the opportunity to put their skills to the test on such an unusual project.”