AN engineering company has made the best use of digital innovations to get the best out of a major new aerospace contract.

Staff at the 70-strong T&R Precision, in Foulridge, secured a deal to provide intricate parts for the Safran LEAP engine, used on the Airbus A320Neo and Boeing 737 Max aircrafts.

But the challenge was to manufacture the parts, made out of a hard metal called Inconel, as efficiently as possible.

Engineers knew it could take around a week, using four or five different devices, to complete a batch of 12 parts, as the material is hard to cut and machine.

Working with Made Smarter, the digital support agency, the company has been able to devise a production process, to enable staff to reduce the build time down from around 90 to 12 hours.

Managing director Tim Maddison said: “When I sat down and told the team that we needed to find a way of doing it all within one machining cell it raised a few eyebrows.

“But when we broke down the problem, we realised that the technology existed, all that was missing was the application.”

Using technologies like automation, data analytics, systems integration and cloud-based solutions, the team came up with the answer.

Real-time electronic reporting now allows every order to be tracked through the supply chain.

The first integrated machine will be in place by the end of the year and a second is envisaged to deal with an increase in orders.

Mr Maddison hopes the reorganisation will keep T&R, which is predicting revenue growth of over 33 per cent over the next three years, ahead of its competitors.

He added: “Our biggest customer is European, but since Brexit we have stagnated with our European partners due in the main to the uncertainties associated with our exit. As such we need to sure up future contracts and explore other world markets.

“If we develop a manufacturing system which ticks all the boxes for our customer and in turn their customer, we are pitching for not three or five years, but the life of aircraft - a 15-year contract.”