Friday, February 27, 2015

News: Minister opens Rolls-Royce's £110m Rotherham facility

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The most advanced turbine blade casting facility in the world has been officially opened in Rotherham.

Rolls-Royce, one of the most famous names in engineering throughout the world, welcomed Business Minister Matthew Hancock to the £110m Advanced Blade Casting Facility (ABCF) on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham yesterday to perform the ceremony.

When fully operational in 2017, the 14,000 sq m facility in Rotherham will employ 150 people and produce a specific portfolio of civil aerospace parts, such as turbine blades, using advanced manufacturing techniques and an increased level of automation.

The new foundry is used for Rolls-Royce's pioneering work in the manufacture of single crystal (SX) turbine blades. The advanced turbine blade castings are produced for the company's most modern, high-thrust engines. There are over 65 in every iconic Trent engine and 182 turbine blades in each Trent XWB engine.

With an initial capacity of 100,000 blades per year, this is set to increase to 200,000 when the pioneering manufacturing process has been proven.

Business Minister, Matthew Hancock (pictured top, left), said: "This new facility will house the most advanced blade casting facility in the world and is a truly remarkable feat of engineering. When operational, it will create 150 high skilled jobs and support the local economy.

"Our aerospace growth partnership has put in place a long-term industrial strategy for the whole aerospace industry and this investment by Rolls Royce in new technology and modern manufacturing processes is testament to the ongoing strength of this sector. Continuing to back leading companies like Rolls Royce, and supporting the UK's manufacturing sector is part of the government's long term economic plan."

Gareth Davies, executive vice president, Turbines at Rolls-Royce, said: "It was a great pleasure to welcome the Business Minister to open the most advanced blade casting facility in the world. Rolls-Royce is committed to investing in innovative technology and world-class facilities to help us deliver our record £73.7 billion order book.

"This facility will use ground-breaking manufacturing techniques to produce single crystal turbine blades for our Trent engines including the world's most efficient aero civil engine, the Trent XWB."

There are two types of turbine blade manufactured at the Rotherham facility: high pressure (HP) and intermediate pressure (IP) single crystal blades. Rolls-Royce has been working closely with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry (part of the government's High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centre along with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Rotherham) to develop and optimise the enabling technologies.


Rotherham was selected due to the AMP and the close links already forged with the AMRC on the site. It was also a condition of the government funded research (around £15m) that a location with a legacy of heavy industry was selected.

The factory operates more like a modern automotive factory, with greater integration and intelligence. With blades manufactured to tolerances of +/- 0.2mm, and from advanced alloys, measurement techniques at the ABCF are at the cutting edge. 3D structured light systems and computer tomography is being used to see inside the cast pieces to check that they are fit to fly.

The techniques have helped reduce the time it takes to manufacture a turbine blade by 50% while producing a step-change in component performance.

Paul Woodcock, director of planning, regeneration and culture at Rotherham Council, said: "Rolls-Royce brings another global, hi-tech, high-quality addition to Rotherham's Advanced Manufacturing base. We're delighted to have helped the company make this choice, which is a massive boost for the ambitious plans for Sheffield City Region, in which Rotherham is playing a truly significant role."

In 2012, Rolls-Royce secured planning permission for a 21,000 sq m "Project PoWeR" facility, also on the AMP, which is proposed for manufacturing and assembling power vessels for the next generation of nuclear power stations. A third 8,800 sq m building has outline planning permission.

Rolls-Royce website

Images: BIS / Twitter / BAM Construction / Rolls-Royce

1 comments:

Richard Parker March 4, 2015 at 8:52 AM  

Rolls-Royce has officially opened a £110m advanced blade casting facility in Rotherham, England, UK.The turbine blades produced at the new plant will be used in various Trent aero engines, Rolls-Royce Trent XWB, which will power Airbus A350 XWB.

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