THEY are the kind of thing you may not look twice at. Tiny objects it would be easy to overlook in the context of a vast, complex engineering project.

But they also happen to be life-saving, precision-made components crafted by a world-leading engineering firm, based right here in Ryedale.

The objects are cable “cleats” - specialised clasps designed to hold together cables carrying huge amounts of power - and the firm is Ellis Patents in Rillington.

“They’re safety devices,” explains Ellis’s managing director Richard Shaw. “They’re sitting there waiting for something to go wrong.”

Power is transported round the country on thrumming overhead lines, insulated only by the air around them. But when these lines come back down to earth, and turn into insulated cables, they are often guided and secured by Ellis products.

Sometimes the cables can be up to 16cm thick.

The key risk is a short circuit or other issue blowing the cable - at which point the danger for anyone nearby is less to do with being electrocuted than being lacerated by a cable leaping loose in a fraction of a second.

Therefore, the products have to be rigorously tested.

“There is a lot of science behind it - it’s a scientific product,” Mr Shaw says.

Rillington is the company’s only site. Everything it creates is designed, and manufactured, here.

It employs 60 people, almost all of whom live in the local area, and who are employed in a full spectrum of roles, from professional engineers, toolmakers, injection-moulding specialists and welders to a globe-trotting sales team and administration, accounts and marketing staff.

This full control of their design and manufacture chain means they can do a lot of bespoke products and work to any given brief.

“Customers will come to us with a problem and we’ll find a solution,” Mr Shaw says.

“We’re problem solvers. People come to us because there’s no-one else quite like us on the market.”

It’s an approach that has been recognised locally. At the recent Business Awards, run by the Gazette & Herald’s sister paper The Press, Ellis was the big winner, clinching the Business Innovation of the Year award, as well as being named Business of the Year.

The manufacturer won the innovation award for its No Bolts cleat, designed to alleviate an issue that was causing Network Rail severe health and safety concerns.

Ellis are based in Ryedale but they’re a global company.

They get their raw materials - steel, aluminium, plastics - from around the world, and they export worldwide too.

Ellis’s main clients are utility companies and oil and gas firms, Mr Shaw says, but Ellis products can be found in a huge number of places around the globe.

The Royal Navy’s new Astute class nuclear submarines. Underground railways. Nuclear power stations in Finland and China. A new airport in Saudi Arabia.

The biggest project they’ve been involved in so far is the London Power Tunnels.

“It’s the biggest project you’ve never heard of,” says Mr Shaw.

“They need to get more and more power into the centre of cities. So they’re digging tunnels under London. National Grid have built about 30km of tunnels, all of it at three of four metres diameter, holding power cables.”

And all of them bound by cleats built in Rillington.

Ellis was founded in 1962 by Arthur Ellis, and it has grown ever since. “We’re here for the long term,” says Mr Shaw.

On the subject of Brexit, the big issue of our time, which has the potential to have significant effects on a company which works so globally, Mr Shaw says it is already having an effect.

The weak pound is helping exporters like Ellis - but they also import a lot of their raw materials which have become more expensive.

“We are where we are, and we have to live with it,” he added. “We will come to some sort of arrangement with the EU and we will continue to trade.”