Rolls-Royce invests in research and factories to support future growth

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, today announced plans to invest in four new factories and two advanced research programmes in the UK.

These investments will enable Rolls-Royce to respond to anticipated growth in its aerospace and civil nuclear markets and will create or secure over 800 jobs in innovative high-value manufacturing programmes, largely in Assisted Areas.

The research programmes will focus on critical technologies to reduce the CO2 emissions of future aircraft programmes and will accelerate the development of new manufacturing methods that create significant competitive advantage for the UK.

Rolls-Royce is also separately announcing today the development of a new wide chord fan blade factory in Singapore.

Sir John Rose, Rolls-Royce Chief Executive, commented: “These are significant investments in capability and research which reflect our commitment to continue to invest in the future of our business, even at this stage in the economic cycle. We are delighted that the British Government will be supporting these projects.”

New UK factories

Rolls-Royce will invest over £300 million in four factories in the UK, with £45 million of support to be provided by the UK Government. The factories comprise:

  1. Casting facility for single crystal (SX) turbine blades
    Turbine blades are important and highly complex aero engine components. Rolls-Royce will establish a new casting facility, where it will develop new, high-productivity manufacturing processes before incorporating them into production. The factory will manufacture advanced turbine blade castings for the Company’s most modern, high-thrust engines.
  2. Advanced disc manufacturing facility
    Discs are critical rotating parts used in fans, compressors and turbines. Rolls-Royce will establish a new disc machining factory that will deliver a step-change improvement in the manufacture of fan and turbine discs for commercial and military aero engines. A suite of manufacturing processes, developed in the advanced manufacturing research centres, will be demonstrated in the factory before being introduced into production.
  3. Military wide chord fan blade (WCFB) facility
    Rolls-Royce has unique capability in the production of hollow WCFBs, which are central to the performance of both military and commercial aero engines.
    The Group is positioned on the engine programme of the Lightning Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft. Rolls-Royce is providing hollow blisked fans for the LiftSystem® on the VSTOL (Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing) version of the aircraft and for the F136 alternative engine. It will extend its facility in Barnoldswick, UK, where it currently manufactures large WCFBs for commercial aircraft, to manufacture advanced military blades, investing in new capacity to meet planned increases in engine production.
    Additional capability for the manufacture of civil wide chord fan blades will be located in a new factory in Singapore announced separately today, which will complement the existing WCFB facility at Barnoldswick.
  4. Civil nuclear facility
    Rolls-Royce will build a new factory to manufacture, assemble and test components for new civil nuclear power stations. These include pressure vessels, heat exchangers and other large and complex reactor parts, manufactured to exacting nuclear standards.
    The facility will have strong links with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, announced by the UK Government on 15 July 2009, in which Rolls-Royce will be the leading industrial partner.
    The Group is consulting globally with appropriate employee representatives on the UK and Singapore investments.

New research and technology programmes in the UK

The company and its partners will also invest in new research programmes. These comprise:

  1. Research into low carbon aircraft engine technologies
    Rolls-Royce and its partners are investing in a Rolls-Royce-led research programme valued at around £90 million that is central to the development of low carbon aircraft engine technologies. The UK Government will provide £45 million through its Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to support the research. The TSB is currently considering a research programme called SILOET (Strategic Investment in Low Carbon Engine Technology), which is expected to deliver a substantial improvement in CO2 emissions and hence engine fuel economy.
  2. SAMULET (Strategic Affordable Manufacturing in the UK through Leading Environmental Technologies)
    SAMULET is a Rolls-Royce-led collaborative programme to accelerate the development of manufacturing and product technologies. It will focus on productivity and environmental improvements, including efficient advanced manufacturing processes and lower engine fuel consumption. The programme will be closely linked with the advanced manufacturing research centres. It will be valued at up to £90 million over four years and is receiving support of £28.5 million from the TSB and £11.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with further support under discussion with regional bodies.
  1. Rolls-Royce is a global business, providing and supplying integrated power systems for use on land, at sea and in the air. The Group has established a strong position in civil aerospace, defence aerospace, marine and energy markets.
  2. Annual underlying revenues were £9.1 billion in 2008, 52 per cent of which came from services revenues. The firm and announced order book at the end of 2008 stood at £55.5 billion, providing visibility of future levels of activity.
  3. Rolls-Royce employs around 38,000 skilled people in offices, manufacturing and service facilities in 50 countries. The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills.
  4. Businesses are headquartered in the UK, US and Singapore. This global presence allows the Group to deliver benefits to its partners, in addition to being able to access long-term international growth opportunities with its technology, presence, partnerships and people.
  5. The Group has invested £1.4 billion in capital projects over the last five years and £3.7 billion in research and development (R&D). In 2008, Rolls-Royce and its partners invested £885 million in R&D, two thirds of which had the objective of further improving the environmental aspects of its products, in particular the reduction of emissions.
  6. Research and development is carried out in facilities in the UK, Canada, Germany, Singapore, the US and Scandinavia and the Group has particularly strong relationships with the 27 Rolls-Royce University Technology Centres worldwide.
  7. Rolls-Royce has been closely involved in developing the network of UK manufacturing research centres. These centres provide an infrastructure to support public and privately funded manufacturing technology research. Rolls-Royce joined the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield, which opened in 2004, with founder member Boeing. In early 2009 it opened the £10 million Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future, a four-fold expansion of the AMRC, on the same Sheffield site. In 2007, Rolls-Royce agreed with Scottish Enterprise and Strathclyde University to launch the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), which will open in 2010, and on 15 July 2009 announced its leading role in the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC). The Group has also been involved in launching centres in the USA (Virginia) and Singapore.
  8. Technical information:
    • Turbine blades are complex aero engine components. They are a primary driver in enabling the performance cycle that reduces fuel consumption and are therefore fundamental to the economic competitiveness and environmental performance of the engine.
    • Discs are rotating parts used in fans, compressors and turbines. They are critical to the integrity, performance and economic competitiveness of the engine.
    • Wide chord fan blades are complex, technologically advanced components used in fans for civil and military engines.

Need more information?