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British Engines Limited // Venturion

Zoller Tool Presetter aids BEL Engineering Efficiency


Founded in Newcastle upon Tyne by brothers Charles and Harold Lamb in 1922, British Engines Limited (BEL) remains in the ownership of the same family, and to this day has its headquarters in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This remarkable continuity has acted as the foundation for the impressive growth and technical development of the business and has helped BEL to progress from relatively humble beginnings to what is now a world class concern employing over 1100 staff.

The diverse nature of the BEL’s many proficiencies, and the scope if the company’s capacity, means that it is able to manufacture products such as high-precision cable glands, measuring less than 10 mm in diameter, whilst at the other end of the scale, following the recent opening of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, components of up to 10,500mm x 4,000mm x 1,300mm, can now be manufactured.



The establishment of the latest Group Company – BEL Engineering and a £3 million plus investment in world-class, large capacity machine tools enables the production of extremely large parts.


Jonathan Lamb, BEL Operations Director explained;

“Based in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Cramlington, 10 miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, BEL Engineering was established to cater for the growing demand from UK and European industry for high-quality, large capacity sub-contract machining provision. Our impressive new facility has the ability to provide high-accuracy horizontal machining capacity and external grinding, way beyond BEL’s previous size and weight capabilities. In addition to offering high-quality, large capacity sub-contract machining, BEL Engineering’s enhanced size and weight capability will enable other BEL Group companies to keep large capacity machining ‘in-house’ and to further expand their own product offerings.”



BEL Engineering’s main capabilities are provided by an imposing, large capacity Skoda HCW 2 – 200 Horizontal Floor Boring and Milling machine. Costing more than £2.5 million the impressive new machine tool boasts XYZ axes travel of 10,500mm x 4,000mm x 1,300mm, with spindle out-travel W axes of 1,200mm and Ram + spindle out-travel Z + W axes of 2,500mm. Believed to be unique within the UK relating to overall capability, capacity and accuracy, amongst other features, the machine boasts an angular milling attachment, facing head & full 5 axis head.

Constant demand for the Floor Boring and Milling machine’s output and BEL’s need to ensure an economic return on investment means that it operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To help ensure the best possible productivity and to guarantee product quality, all of the machine’s tools are set off-line.


Jonathan Lamb continued;

“Having reaped the multiple benefits, brought about by using off-line tool presetting techniques throughout the BEL Group, from the commencement of production at BEL Engineering, the need to employ the same highly efficient methods were obvious.

Before commencing production, mindful of our Floor Boring and Milling machine’s XYZ travel of 10,500mm x 4,000mm x 1,300mm and its intended around-the-clock operation, we approached Zoller UK. We supplied the company with a ‘wish-list’ of tool presetter features that would allow us to optimise the use of our new machine tool and would ensure the production of high quality large components. Not only were Zoller UK able to adhere to our challenging requirements by proposing the purchase of a Venturion tool presetter, the company suggested several other features that would further increase our machine ‘up-time’.

Because of the success of the new operation an ever expanding order book has resulted in high demands placed on the Skoda’s machining time, therefore we appreciate the significant, additional machining time created by the use of our Zoller Venturion tool presetter.”


Zoller UK were able to satisfy BEL Engineering’s exacting requirements due to the modular nature of the company’s Venturion Tool Presetters. The range’s level of flexibility enables a high quality tool presetter to be specified and supplied that is optimised to each customers own specific needs. This ensures that all users’ production processes and CNC needs can be catered for. The robust, high-accuracy Venturion is able to satisfy the most demanding of precision needs, in addition to accommodating large, heavy tools.

Designed to deliver high-precision results within shop floor situations, the Venturion range features a wide variety of quality features such as a membrane keyboard, power-operated spindle clamping and spindle braking, autofocus and a high-precision rotary encoder

Zoller’s easy to use, yet powerful pilot 3.0 software helps enable the rapid, accurate presetting, measuring, inspection and management of all categories of cutting tools, whilst data communication is provided via machine links and interfaces to external systems. The Zoller system enables the linking of more than 100 different machine readable output formats. Manual inputs are no longer required as data is available directly for the machine.


“Zoller UK are proud to be associated with BEL Engineering and delighted that our Venturion tool presetter is playing a part in the company’s quest for maximum efficiency”, enthused Zoller UK Managing Director Andrew Fulton.

A common practice amongst the world’s elite manufacturers, such as BEL, is the implementation of modern tool presetting methods. By setting tools off-line, previous sequential methods of performing work are replaced with more efficient, simultaneous process that releases significant amounts of latent productive time.

Compared to traditional methods, it is estimated that a single, off-machine tool presetting routine results in a saving of three minutes of machine downtime. Based on approximately 20 tool changes over an 8 hour shift, typical downtime savings of 12.5% for each machine can be achieved. Or put another way, presetting tools generates an extra hour of valuable production time on every shift, on every machine tool.

So compulsive is this productivity argument that, when faced with the need to raise output, by 10 – 15%, rather than purchase an additional, expensive CNC machine tool and employ another operator, many companies have achieved the required productivity increase by installing a relatively inexpensive tool presetter.

Off-line presetting delivers increased productive machine time by removing the need for trial cuts and unlike on-machine probing, the technique ensures that the tool becomes productive the instant it is loaded into the machine tool.  Also, the guaranteed accuracy of tools slashes companies’ scrap levels and adheres to ‘right first time’ manufacturing philosophies. Improved tool setting precision also considerably reduces expenditure on replacement carbide inserts and improves the surface finish of components.

Although tool presetting is a relatively mature process, it remains one that is not fully appreciated or totally understood. Modern tool presetters contribute enormously to the on-going success of production operations – and importantly – to users’ bottom lines. As an acknowledged leader in the field, Zoller have a range of high quality Tool Presetting systems to suit all applications and budgets, from our entry level Smile, to our renowned Venturion, Redomatic and Hyperion models.

As Tool Presetting represents the perfect way to optimise machine tool performance and increase profitability, the efficiency gains achieved by new users, means that many describe ROI figures expressed in months, rather than years.”

Find out more about the full range of services BEL Engineers offers by visiting https://www.belengineering.co.uk/