Precision Engineering sub sector
Primarily involved in high technology, value adding activities for products and services used around the world in very demanding environments. Aerospace, consumer, energy, marine, and space applications - huge operating pressures, high quality, small tolerances, atomic level detail, reliability - the cutting edge of engineering in many applications.
This sub sector covers activities such as:
- the global aviation market both commercial and military, fixed wing and rotorcraft via the prime manufacturers such as Airbus, AgustaWestand, BAE Systems, Boeing, Bombardier and Lockheed Martin on programmes such as the Airbus A320, new A350, A380, Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) commercial aircraft, F35/Lightning II, Hawk, Typhoon, EH101 helicopter, several UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles) and ejector seats for military products,
- aviation jet engine supply via the Rolls Royce Trent engine programmes for a variety of commercial aircraft,
- for oil and gas companies; valves, pressure regulators and graphine powder coatings to reduce friction in oil pipelines,
- components for power, propulsion and motion control solutions for marine applications via Rolls Royce Marine serving over 2,500 customers and has equipment installed on 30,000 vessels operating around the world,
- anchor and mooring designs,
- components for gas turbine and diesel engines for ground and off shore installation electrical generation in support of Rolls Royce Energy,
- industrial diamonds for state of the art cutting tools,
- optical flats for use in space,
- high value bespoke watches,
- kettle and other kitchen appliance controls (with all leading manufacturers), and
- submarine components.
The sub sector has within itself an Island supply chain. That is to say when companies secure more work, if they cannot cope internally, or wish to retain the new work and offset other work out, the island based precision engineering sub sector is the first place where companies try to place the work.
There is therefore a tiered system of supply and this will continue to grow as long as the products and services being supplied are of the required high quality and are competitive. For example, local companies designing and building products have sourced machined components from the local machining companies and also sourced specialised processing from companies with coating or plating capabilities; and custom assembly and test equipment from specialist test-equipment design/make suppliers. This is in addition to various other business relationships such as financial services, shipping, and waste disposal. The value of this peripheral business is estimated at about £15M per year.
Over the past few years, several companies have moved work to their island facility from other sites. Examples are aerospace work being transferred from the UK; oil and gas products being transferred from Switzerland; and pressure regulators being transferred from the USA. This has brought new equipment, jobs and new products here.
Many companies are working with government through the Isle of Man Aerospace Cluster (IOMAC) to drive benefits (costs, performance, quality etc), improved working/competitiveness and seeking greater project work from aerospace manufacturers around the world (use link here for more information).
Aerospace cluster members are also members of the Northwest Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) which facilitates collaboration between a large working group of aerospace companies in the northwest of England, primarily created to strengthen the region's supply chains. Use link here for more information on NWAA.
Many companies have developed strong relationships with the prime manufacturers they supply such as Airbus, Rolls Royce, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. The work that island companies can achieve consistently is seen as high quality, on time and good value despite the complexities - complexities that many other companies around the world cannot handle or achieve. The island's reputation for delivery is very high and so we see a lot of repeat and new business coming our way.
Accordingly, many companies are currently negotiating some very long term contract extensions to support the next generation of civil aircraft and engines. This has the potential to greatly influence the current aerospace business within some companies.
Companies in this sub sector require highly skilled, often quite specialised people to both help manufacture and support the processes of manufacturing.