Deputy PM and Business Secretary open new Rolls-Royce UK Discs Facility

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Rolls-Royce today marked the official opening of its new £100m advanced aerospace disc manufacturing facility with a ceremony conducted by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Business Secretary Vince Cable.

When fully operational in 2016, the 18,000m2 facility in Washington, Tyne and Wear will have the capacity to manufacture 2,500 fan and turbine discs a year. These discs will feature in a wide-range of Trent aero engines including the world's most efficient aero engine the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB. Fan Discs and Turbine Discs are at the heart of the engine, operating in extreme conditions providing the engine's thrust.

Ground-breaking manufacturing techniques include the introduction of robotics and automation for shot peen, painting and chemical processing operations as well as latest advanced platforms for machining, grinding, broaching and inspection processes. This has reduced the time it takes to manufacture a disc by 50% while producing a step-change in component performance. The state of the art facility makes use of manufacturing methods developed at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Rotherham. The AMRC is part of a network of research centres which aim to work with businesses to apply university research to accelerate the commercialisation of new and emerging manufacturing technologies.

Tony Wood, Rolls-Royce, President - Aerospace, said: "Rolls-Royce is committed to investing for future growth in order to deliver for our customers. We invested £687m in facilities and equipment around the world last year. This facility will use ground breaking manufacturing techniques to produce discs for our Trent engines including the world's most efficient aero engine, the Trent XWB."

There are two types of disc manufactured at the Washington plant: fan discs and turbine discs. Located at the front of the engine, the fan disc holds the fan blades. There are typically 20 blades in each engine. They rotate about 2,700 times per minute and move 1.25 tonnes of air per second, the equivalent of the volume of air in a squash court. The fan discs remain in service for over 20 years.

The turbine discs hold blades in the hottest part of the engine where the operating conditions are at their most severe. The disc is made of some of the strongest materials available, created using refined powders which are specially processed and machined to the accuracy of a fraction of the thickness of a human hair. The blades that these discs hold each generate the power of a Formula 1 racing car and there are 68 of them in, for instance, the Trent XWB. The temperature within the high pressure turbine is 1,700 degrees centigrade, hotter than the melting point of the turbine blades themselves so they have to be coated with a special ceramic and cooled with air passed through the discs and out of a series of precise holes in the blade.

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc

  1. Rolls-Royce's vision is to create better power for a changing world via two main business segments, Aerospace and Marine & Industrial Power Systems (MIPS). These business segments address markets with two strong technology platforms, gas turbines and reciprocating engines, for use on land, at sea and in the air.
  2. Aerospace comprises Civil Aerospace and Defence Aerospace. MIPS comprises Marine, Energy & Nuclear and Power Systems (RRPS). On 7 March 2014, Daimler announced their intention to exercise their option to sell their 50% share in RRPS to Rolls-Royce Holdings plc. On 16 April 2014, the valuation was agreed and the transaction is expected to complete within the coming months, subject to the usual regulatory approvals. On 6 May 2014 Rolls-Royce announced it had signed an agreement to sell its Energy gas turbine and compressor business to Siemens for a £785m cash consideration. On completion, expected before the end of December 2014, Rolls-Royce will receive a further £200 million for a 25 year licensing agreement.
  3. Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 120 countries, comprising more than 380 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 4,000 marine customers, including 70 navies, and 1,600 energy and nuclear customers.
  4. Our business is focused on the 4Cs:
    • Customer - placing the customer at the heart of our business
    • Concentration - deciding where to grow and where not to
    • Cost - continually looking to increase efficiency
    • Cash - improving financial performance.
  5. Annual underlying revenue was £15.5 billion in 2013, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services. The firm and announced order book stood at £71.6 billion at 31 December 2013.
  6. In 2013, Rolls-Royce invested £1.1 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 31 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers with the forefront of scientific research.
  7. Rolls-Royce employs over 55,000 people in 45 countries. Over 17,000 of these are engineers.
  8. The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills. In 2013 we employed 379 graduates and 288 apprentices through our worldwide training programmes.
  9. Rolls-Royce manufactures the broadest range stabilisers in the market. The retractable Aquarius series is specially configured for smaller vessels, and highly suitable for naval vessels with a small hull aperture, and compact installation supplied complete with fin box.

For further information, please contact:

Richard Wray
Director of External Communications
Tel +44 (0)2072279163
Mobile +44 (0)7974918416
Richard.Wray@rolls-royce.com

Sarah Roberts
Communications Manager
Mobile +44 (0) 7968906469
sarah.roberts2@rolls-royce.com

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