Wednesday, November 5, 2014

News: Rolls-Royce restructure affects 2,600 jobs

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The recruitment of apprentices continues at Rolls-Royce's Rotherham facility despite the world-renowned engineers announcing that it would cut its workforce by 2,600 over the next 18 months, principally in its aerospace division.

Rolls-Royce has a £71 billion order book, with around £60 billion coming from the civil aerospace division. A major manufacturer of aero engines for all sectors of the airliner and corporate jet market, Rolls-Royce powers more than 30 types of commercial aircraft and has almost 13,000 engines in service around the world. A Rolls-Royce powered aircraft takes off or lands every 2.5 seconds.

The multi-million pound Advanced Blade Casting Facility (ABCF) on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham produces a specific portfolio of civil aerospace parts, such as turbine blades, using advanced manufacturing techniques.

In a statement, the Derby-based firm said: "Rolls-Royce today announces additional headcount reductions as part of an intensified programme to improve operational efficiency and reduce cost across the Group. We now propose a restructuring plan that will reduce headcount by 2,600 over the next 18 months, principally in our Aerospace division. The majority of this reduction will be achieved in 2015."

It follows on from an announcement in October that Rolls-Royce expects underlying revenue to be lower in 2014 than in 2013 due to the short term economic environment and the economic outlook for 2015 becoming more challenging. Rolls-Royce said it would look at restructures and reviews, particularly on reducing costs, including headcount, footprint and sourcing.

John Rishton, chief executive officer at Rolls-Royce, said: "We are taking determined management action and accelerating our progress on cost. The measures announced today will not be the last, however they will contribute towards Rolls-Royce becoming a stronger and more profitable company.

"We will work closely with employees and their representatives to achieve the necessary reductions on a voluntary basis where possible, while making sure we retain the skills needed for the future."

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The company said that its investment in new technology and facilities, alongside the organisational changes made to simplify the Group, have enabled them to increase output and improve efficiency. As new engines, such as the Trent 1000 and Trent XWB, move into production, Rolls-Royce is expected to reduce its engineering requirement.

The statement added: "We have opened a number of world class new facilities, such as Crosspointe in the USA and in the UK at Rotherham and Washington, Tyne & Wear. These set new standards in productivity and efficiency and allow us to improve the competitiveness of our footprint."

The Rotherham factory manufactures advanced turbine blade castings for the company's most modern, high-thrust engines. There are over 65 in every iconic Trent engine. Having developed and optimised the enabling technologies with government-backing, the blades are made as a single crystal.

Improvements to the manufacturing process are shrouded in secrecy but include using more automation and control, with robots used in the casting process and the factory operating more like a modern automotive factory, with greater integration and intelligence.

As well as adding capacity and capability, the new ABCF is addressing cost issues by vastly increasing the yield of the casting process. Previously, for every 100 casts going through the process, one fifth can't be sold and are recycled. This is the magic number for high end manufacturers who are using alloys that are more expensive than silver.

With 180 staff at Rotherham, Rolls-Royce has again begun advertising for applicants for its industry-leading apprenticeship programmes.

Rolls-Royce's advanced apprenticeships for engineering are offered in two disciplines - technical and practical.

Technical apprentices use state-of-the-art computers to build powerful investigative and problem-solving skills in preparation for taking on some of the world's toughest technical challenges.

Practical apprentices train using state-of-the-art components, machinery and technology, getting ready to build, test and fix incredible, world-changing products.

98% of apprentices successfully complete their training compared with a 74% national average and many go on to senior roles within the organisation - 20% of current senior managers in the UK started their careers as Rolls-Royce apprentices.

Rolls-Royce website

Images: Harworth Estates / Rolls-Royce

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