Hydram Engineering was founded in 1977 by the late Harry Young with his children John Young, Judith Porter and Gillian Young as the original partners.
The name HYDRAM is made up of family names – Harry (HY), his wife Dorothy (D) and the middle names of the three children, John Robert, Judith Anne and Gillian Margaret.
Funds were very limited at first and the Company started in a 2,700sq ft nursery unit, one of the first to be built in County Durham, on Chilton Industrial Estate. This unit was across the road from the present site but was demolished in 2003. Hydram bought the land back from the council in 2005 and it is now the car park.
1977 The Company started production with two small drills, a lathe and a band saw. Later, power presses, a guillotine, a press-brake and a manual punching machine were added to the plant.
1985 Hydram had outgrown the nursery unit so the partners had a new 5,250sq ft factory built on land across the road.
1986 Hydram bought its first automatic punching machine and a second pressbrake, and the business grew steadily.
1987 The Company added a 5,250sq ft extension to the premises, the area now covered by the folding section, canteen and design office.
1993 By this time, more machines had been purchased and the original presses were replaced by hydraulic ones. Once again, the Company needed more space.
1994 An 8,000sq ft extension was completed which now houses the drilling section and upstairs welding section, main office and reception. Hydram now offered a much wider range of services. The Company ceased trading as a partnership and became a limited company.
1996 Hydram attained the ISO9002 quality standard and received a best supplier award from Thorn Lighting of Spennymoor.
By 1997 customers were enquiring more and more about parts that were particularly suited to laser cutting and so, in September of 1997, Hydram launched its new laser cutting service which opened up new market opportunities and reduced lead times. The first two lasers purchased by Hydram were Bystronic Bysprint 3015 CO2 lasers with 1800 watt resonnators, supplied by Pullmax.
1997 Hydram launched its new laser cutting service and the new machine was soon working to capacity. Hydram launched its website in this year: hydram.co.uk
1998 A second laser-cutting machine was commissioned to provide additional capacity.
1999 A high-speed punching machine, a 170-tonne and an 80-tonne press-brake, and a computer-controlled rolling machine were added to Hydram’s plant.
2000 New dressing equipment was purchased to ensure a better quality finish on components, particularly those manufactured from stainless steel. Guillotining and press capacity increased and a bulk storage facility for laser cutting gases was installed. The Company attained the Investor In People award, recognising the investment in time and money in staff training and welfare. Manager Andrew Robertson won a RoSPA safety scholarship and, having successfully completed the course in Edinburgh, was awarded a Health and Safety certificate at a presentation lunch in the House of Lords. Extension work began again which would eventually see the premises increase to 52,000sq ft. A 10-tonne lift was installed to allow goods to be moved under cover with minimum handling.
By 2001 many customers were seeking to have their products powder coated. After subcontracting this operation for a number of years, Hydram took the bold decision to invest in its own powder coating plant, and began the steep learning curve. Having control over the painting process meant that customer service improved dramatically.
2001 Building work was completed. The land between the main factory and the laser unit was covered and became a spacious cutting and materials storage section, and a large goods in section incorporating an overhead crane. A powder coating plant and additional office space (nicknamed ‘The Bridge’) were also added. New plant included CNC rollers able to take items up to three metres long, an additional insert machine to reduce a bottleneck and a third laser-cutting machine. David Greatorex was appointed Operations Director.
2002 The 25th anniversary of the Company. At the end of the first quarter of the year, the workforce numbered 82. The Company ran three delivery vehicles – a new Mercedes 7.5-tonne curtain sider, a Mercedes Sprinter truck and a Mercedes Vito van. Quality Manager Andrew Robertson joined the Durham and North Yorkshire Safety Group, a body whose members promote best practice with regard to health and safety matters within their organisations. In May, Hydram achieved the new quality standard ISO9001:2000 at the first attempt.
2003 Hydram bought the premises opposite the front of the factory which had been vacated by Swift Mould and Tool. Alterations were made to convert the interior to manufacturing and office space for let. It was named the Eden Business Centre. In March, the old nursery units where Hydram began trading in 1977 were demolished and landscaped. Annual health checks were introduced for all employees.
2004 Hydram purchased its first robot welder and a fourth laser-cutting machine. More key staff were appointed to support existing teams: Barry Edgar to the Quality team, Ian Miller to the Purchasing team and Stephen Beacham to the Production team. A short-lived venture, Hydram Stainless Products, was launched, a division of Hydram Sheet Metalwork producing a range of stainless steel industrial furniture.
In 2005 a fourth vehicle was added to the delivery fleet – a Mercedes long wheelbase HGV. A new automated punching cell from Trumpf was commissioned. A further extension project saw the floorspace increase to 62,000sq ft and a new 120-space car park built on the land opposite the factory.
2006 A new tube laser cutting machine was installed to complement the tube bending system – both supplied by BLM. Second robot welder acquired.
2007 A Trumpf punch-laser combination machine was installed allowing us to part-punch and part-laser cut components. An oak sapling was planted on the site to mark Hydram’s 30th anniversary. The company began the process of installing a new capacity planning and scheduling software package to sequence production operations on the shop floor. Many of the company’s original customers are achieving similar growth and success. Hydram parts have been incorporated into such prestigious contracts as: the Royal Opera House – Hong Kong airport – the Channel Tunnel – the London Eye – Heathrow Terminal 5 – Boeing 737 aircraft – Eurostar trains and several major construction projects throughout the UK.
2008 In the early months of 2008 Hydram added two new press brakes, an insert machine and a spot welder to its machinery capacity. Two new fork-lift trucks were also purchased. The goods-out section was moved to the factory space of the Eden Building in June. This created more space in the assembly section to which the insert machines were moved. Hydram now employed a 130 strong workforce.
2009 Despite a recession in the economy Hydram continued to invest in new machinery with the purchase of a Bystronic BySprint Pro laser cutting machine to replace the existing 12 year old BySprint. Hydram attained the ISO9001:2008 quality standard and planning permission was granted for a 30,000 square foot extension to the factory.
In 2010 Hydram achieved the ISO 14001 environmental accreditation. Improvements in the factory include energy efficient lighting in the laser section and remote controls on the up and over doors. Two Trumpf TruBend 7036 pressbrakes are added to the folding section to replace older machines. A new Mercedes Benz 13.5 tonne truck replaces an older model.
2011 Building commences on a 30,000 square foot extension incorporating the Eden Business Centre. The new factory will house wet and powder coating paint plants and an advanced assembly area.
2012 Opening of Hydram’s new £1m Paint and Assembly facility. Hydram introduces wet painting and silk screen printing to its capacity as well as adding a CNC lathe.
2013 BS OHSAS 18001:2007 Occupational Health & Safety standard is achieved. Tube laser and tube bending capacity doubled. Hydram introduces 24×7 continental shift patterns for continuous operation.
2014 Introduction of a new Salvagnini P4Xe 2116 panel bender. Work commences on a new 12,000 square foot factory extension.
2015 Building work completes and new finished goods warehouse opens. Powder coating capacity doubles with installation of new automated paint plant. Tenth pressbrake bought, new robot welder, new shot blaster.
2016 Major investment in sheet metal profiling, with two new Bystronic Fiber lasers, a new Trumpf TruPunch 5000 and automated sheet storage tower systems. A multi-million pound contract with Hitachi Rail Europe begins.
2017 Hydram celebrates 40 years in business. New reception suite opens. Quality Management System certified to ISO9001:2015. Attainment of rail welding standard BS EN 15085-2 Class 2 for Welding of Railway Vehicles and Components (CWRVC).
“My father’s original intention was to have just a small business to keep him and a few family members busy during his retirement. When we started the business, with two pillar drills, a lathe and a band saw, we could never have envisaged being the size we are now.
“We are all very proud of what we have achieved in the last 40 years. I am now the same age my father was when he started the business – we are still growing, and I’m excited about what the next 40 years will bring.”
John Young, 2017
2018 In June US-based Dyanamic Aerospace and Defence Ltd acquires the total shareholding in Hydram Engineering Ltd. John Young becomes Senior Executive and Judith Porter takes retirement. David Greatorex continues as Managing Director. Attainment of rail welding standard BS EN 15085-2 Class 1 for Welding of Railway Vehicles and Components (CWRVC). The new ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health & Safety standard is achieved. Hydram achieves the DIN 6701 standard (class 2A) for adhesive bonding in the rail industry.
2019 Hydram continues to invest in new manufacturing capacity. An additional pressbrake and mechanical press join the press section, whilst a second CNC lathe is acquired for the machining department. The extraction system in the welding area has been upgraded, whilst several new pieces of equipment have been acquired to improve the dressing section. A new Mercedes truck joins the fleet of 7 delivery vehicles.
2021 Additional pressbrakes were acquired from Trumpf bringing the total number to 14. A new TruPunch 5000 was installed to replace the oldest CNC punch, with the additional benefit of a TruStore tower unit for material storage and retrieval. A large bed HAAS VF-11 vertical milling machine was acquired.
2022 The batch paintplant was replaced with a new facility from Hoggs Blasting and Finishing Ltd. in a newly acquired factory unit adjacent to Hydram’s own buildings. A third conveyor operated automated paint plant was installed in the main building. Hydram now occupies 135,000 square feet at its Chilton facility.