Rolls-Royce’s Seletar Engine Factory Now Up and Running
Rolls-Royce’s factory near Seletar Airport is up and running, producing approximately 50 Trent 900s per year, while gearing up to add other engine types to its production line, beginning with the Trent 1000.
Inaugurated during the 2012 Singapore Airshow, the assembly and test unit is described as a sister facility to Rolls-Royce Derby (UK) operation. By the end of 2013, the Seletar campus had delivered more than 50 Trent 900s (the engine that powers the Airbus A380). “By mid-2014, we will be ready to begin production of Trent 1000s, the engine for the Boeing 787,” a Rolls-Royce Singapore spokesperson told AIN. The combined production rate is planned to reach the full capacity of 250 engines a year by early 2016.
More than U.S.$11.5 billion of the new orders received during 2013 were from Rolls-Royce’s customers in Asia and the Middle East. “Our facility in Seletar has allowed us to increase production to cater to growing demand,” the spokesperson added. Rolls-Royce has more than 650 employees on site, 90 percent of whom are Singaporeans and permanent residents.
The fan blade manufacturing facility is currently nearing 35 percent capacity. It is the first outside the UK to produce Rolls-Royce’s wide-chord, hollow titanium blades. “With the start of production of Trent XWB blades from early 2014, the facility is on track to reach full capacity of 6,000 blades per year by 2015,” the spokesperson said. Phase 2 of capacity expansion will be for around 7,600 blades in 2016.
Other activities at the Rolls-Royce Seletar campus are now in full swing, too, including research and training. The campus’ regional training center opened in 2011. Since then, more than 9,000 man-days of training have been completed. “We offer 400 different modules in the regional training center,” the spokesperson said.
Another component of the campus is the advanced technology center. Research agreements have been signed with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National University of Singapore. Currently, some 35 employees from Rolls-Royce and 15 from A*STAR and local universities work in the technology center, which also provides internship opportunities to local university and polytechnic students.
The advanced technology center has developed manufacturing technologies that allow product cycle time to be reduced by “over 50 percent.” Another focus has been to eliminate all health and safety risks resulting from automating a labor- and time-intensive polishing process the company also employs for ship propeller blades. The latter technology has now been implemented at Rolls-Royce’s Kristinehamn factory in Sweden.
With IHI and Siemens, Rolls-Royce is establishing the “advanced remanufacturing and technology center,” scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2014 at CleanTech II, a new development located near the campus of NTU. It will be owned by A*STAR in partnership with NTU. The technology focus is on repair and restoration, surface modification and product verification.
Finally, Rolls-Royce has agreed with NTU to establish the S$75 million ($60 million) “Rolls-Royce@NTU corporate lab.” Supported by the National Research Foundation, the new laboratory will focus on three core areas of research: electric power and control systems; manufacturing and repair technologies; and computational engineering.o