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AMP manufacturing expertise provides driving force for Rolls-Royce’s latest facility

posted 25 Sep 2012, 03:12 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 25 Sep 2012, 03:13 ]
Manufacturing processes developed and refined at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) now provide the driving force behind Rolls-Royce's latest hi-tech facility.

The company recently marked the beginning of construction of its new advanced aerospace disc manufacturing facility in Washington, Tyne and Wear with a groundbreaking ceremony conducted by Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, RT Hon. Vince Cable MP.

When fully operational, the 20,000m2 disc manufacturing facility is expected to begin production in late 2013.  The facility will have capacity to manufacture over 2,000 fan and turbine discs a year. Fan Discs and Turbine Discs are at the heart of the engine, operating at high stress in extreme conditions providing the engine's thrust. They provide the power for a wide range of aircraft including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Airbus A380 and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The manufacturing techniques which will be used at the facility have been developed at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), at the AMP in Rotherham. Working with Rolls-Royce engineers, the AMRC specialists helped to significantly reduce the machining time of the turbine discs. This has led to major efficiency savings and made it worthwhile to retain the production within the UK.

The AMRC is part of a network of research centres which aim to work with businesses to apply university research to accelerate the commercialisation of new and emerging manufacturing technologies.

The Business Secretary said: "The new Rolls-Royce advanced aerospace disc manufacturing plant will further strengthen the UK's position as an aerospace leader, and underpins the company's ongoing commitment to the North East and its workforce."

Alain Michaelis, Rolls-Royce Deputy Chief Operating Officer and President of the Gas Turbine Supply Chain said: "We are pleased to begin construction on this important new facility which will use some of the most advanced manufacturing techniques to produce high-tech aero engine components to power the most advanced aircraft operating today.

"Rolls-Royce continues to invest for future growth. In the last five years we have invested over £950 million in the UK in new and existing facilities to ensure we maintain our competitive edge."

Simon Spode, Marketing Manager at the Advanced Manufacturing Park added; "It is good to see technology and processes developed at the AMP being rolled out into industry. It has always been an ethos of the AMP to help UK companies to remain competitive in a global economy. This is a great example of where the AMRC's machining expertise is helping Rolls-Royce to improve productivity and remain competitive from its UK facilities."

The turbine discs hold blades in the hottest part of the engine where the operating conditions are at their most severe. This requires use of some of the strongest materials available, made from refined powders specially processed and machined to the accuracy of a fraction of the thickness of a human hair. The blades that these discs hold each generate the power of a Formula One car and operate in temperatures several hundred degrees above their melting point.  They are cooled by air ducted through the discs and use heat resistant coatings.