Tuesday, April 23, 2013

News: Rolls-Royce discuss prospects for nuclear and aerospace sectors at GMF


Work on the planned Rolls-Royce civil nuclear manufacturing facility in Rotherham will start when the world-renowned engineers receive the first orders for its nuclear components.

Professor Steve Garwood of Rolls-Royce Nuclear (pictured above) was a key speaker at the recent Global Manufacturing Festival on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham and gave an update on the UK being on the verge of a new nuclear renaissance.

In the UK, the new generation of nuclear power stations will require a total investment of around £60 billion. Recent positive moves include planning permission being granted for a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, the UK's official nuclear regulators approving the design of Areva's EPR reactor for use in the UK, and Hitachi acquiring Horizon, the UK new nuclear power station business from E.ON UK and RWE npower.

On Rolls-Royce developing its nuclear business, Professor Garwood said: "We have aspirations for building a civil nuclear factory at some point in the UK, when there are orders. So we are really on the brink.

"We do have an aspiration, particularly if we start building civil nuclear components in the UK, to attack the global market with that factory, not just base it on UK requirements."

Plans for a state-of-the-art factory for Rolls-Royce at AMP in Rotherham have been approved. The 21,000 sq m "Project PoWeR" facility is proposed for manufacturing and assembling power vessels for the next generation of nuclear power stations. It will bring another 180 of the initial 360 jobs from Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce is aiming to produce large components, up to 150 tons, such as pressurisers, core make up tanks and heat exchangers.

Professor Garwood also highlighted the pedigree of Rolls-Royce in the nuclear submarine sector and the expansion of facilities in Derby (employing 1,400 nuclear engineers) and also discussed the importance of its involvement in research and development, particularly as the lead industrial partner in the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre on the AMP.

Summarising, Professor Garwood said that the only way the UK can compete in the nuclear sector is by focusing on high value manufacturing. He added: "Forget high volumes, forget mass employment actually. We need to develop the techniques taking us to a technological edge above the rest of the world.

"For this to work we need absolute synergy between the universities, the manufacturing research centres, the supply chain and people like Rolls-Royce. And, in fact, the government need to oil the wheels. You can't just say 'market forces take over,' it doesn't work in the nuclear industry."

Andy Page, strategic purchase executive for Rolls-Royce, was also a key speaker at the Global Manufacturing Festival. He provided an update on the company's involvement in the aerospace sector, a sector where future production is much more set in stone than civil nuclear.

Page estimated that 27,000 new aircraft will be needed over the next 20 years. "This stuff is going to happen," he said. "We have a growing order book of around £60 billion and the challenge now will be on delivering as opposed to winning orders."

Page added that it took Rolls-Royce 18 years to produce the previous 2,000 of its iconic Trent engines, the next 2,000 will take only five years.

To do that means the continuation of the groundbreaking research in new manufacturing techniques and materials carried out at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing on the AMP.

"Technology and capability is key" added Page. "The UK needs to improve technologies to give itself an advantage."

Improvements are taking place in productivity, supply chains, financing and management and Rolls-Royce is investing in the next generation of engineers with a new apprentice academy.

Rapid progress is also being made on the new Advanced Blade Casting Facility currently being constructed at the AMP.

The 14,900 sq m facility will use cutting edge manufacturing techniques to produce single crystal turbine blades, which play a critical role in jet engines and are required to withstand centrifugal loads of up to ten tonnes while operating at up to 200 degrees above the melting point of their alloy.

The Rotherham facility will be capable of manufacturing 100,000 blades per year when fully operational in 2014.

Rolls-Royce website
Global Manufacturing Festival website

Images: globalmanufacturingfestival.com


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