The company, which previously hand-fed timber into a planing machine, said the investment is the result of buoyant demand for planed timber, predominantly redwood, across northern England.

The Swedish Almab line, currently being installed at MH Southern’s Jarrow site, consists of an infeed, tilt joist, valley separator, accelerator, an existing Wadkin XE220 moulder, inkjet marking, a pack stacker, wrapping machine and static forklift.

A new shed has been erected to house the equipment, which is capable of running at 160m/min.

James Southern, the company’s managing director, said the line would minimise timber handling, grow output and ultimately lead to better profitability.

The installation, expected to be complete by mid-July, is the final phase in a £600,000 year-long investment programme, which has so far involved the purchase of a new Stenner Tandem bandsaw and rebuilding of a Wadkin planer.

Mr Southern said demand was coming from timber and builders merchants, builders and DIY outlets.