The final piece by dfsiopmhy6


     final piece
     Rolls-Royce has found the way to bridge the gap between university research and production – inspired
     by the Rotherham-based Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. Andrew Allcock reports

     T  he Advanced Manufacturing Research
        Centre (AMRC), Rotherham has
     established itself as probably the highest
                                                    plus the rebranding of the new, enlarged
                                                    AMRC premises as the Rolls-Royce
                                                    Factory of the Future. Initially, AMRC
                                                                                                 Fighter programme, for example; new
                                                                                                 and novel components; new materials;
                                                                                                 new processes; and tighter specifications.
     profile manufacturing process                  focused on metalcutting but has              Business challenges include: aggressive
     development facility in the UK over its        broadened its areas of research (see box     cost-down targets; improved process
     short life (see box opposite page). But it     again). The Rolls-Royce Factory of the       capability; reduced product introduction
     has also become a key element within           Future (FoF) is now the home of the          times; improved delivery adherence;
     Rolls-Royce’s growing worldwide                metalcutting activities, but it is also      escalating material costs; and a
     research and development undertakings,         providing “the inspiration for Rolls-Royce   weakening dollar.
     as Dr Jamie McGourlay, partnership co-         to build a broader scale network of             To meet all these challenges, the
     ordinator for Rolls-Royce at the AMRC          partners in key areas across our business    company needs new capability to remain
     explained at a recent event.                   in manufacturing”, says Dr McGourlay,        competitive which means new
        An AMRC partner for three years, the        who explained the drivers behind the         manufacturing processes plus improved
     increasing importance that Rolls-Royce         need for such an effort.                     process understanding “at the
     attaches to the facility is underlined by Dr      These business drivers for the firm       fundamental level”.
     McGourlay’s and other Rolls-Royce              include product challenges: high volume         Dr McGourlay refers to the NASA-
     personnel’s increasing presence at AMRC,       production of the US-led Joint Strike        developed Manufacturing Capability

                                                                                                 September 2008   •
                                                                                                                    COVER STORY

Readiness Level (MCRL) system to explain       concern when it comes to MCRL levels 4       from partners, especially manufacturing
how the AMRC/FoF and other similar             to 6. That is, when we have made the         technology OEMs; the sharing of
initiatives are to play their part in          decision that we should invest in            knowledge and best practice;
delivering this new capability. The MCRL       something through to maturity; where,        demonstration of capability on real
plots manufacturing capability across          how and with whom should we do that.”        components on real machines; the
nine levels – level 1 being the very           Levels 4 to 6 take in the late technology    availability of dimensional and material
earliest stage of technology assessment        assessment/proving and pre-production        analysis on-site offering fast turnaround;
and proving, with level 9 world class          stages. And that gap is between Rolls-       co-location of engineers supporting
production implementation.                     Royce’s existing University Technology       knowledge transfer; ready formed
    Rolls-Royce has modified the MCRL          Centres – of which there are 27 globally –   consortium able to exploit public funding
system for its own needs, explains Dr          and manufacturing equipment suppliers,       from bodies such as Engineering and
McGourlay, “as an aid to understanding         such as machine tool builders.               Physical Sciences Research Council; the
the process by which we identify a new            The AMRC/FoF fills this gap,              ability to try extreme ideas away from the
technology or novel idea, graduate that        demonstrating what Dr McGourlay              constraints of production facilities; access
technology up through the levels using a       describes as a new level of partnership,     to university expertise on process
‘gated process’ that allows us to rate the     providing a ‘sandpit’ environment where      fundamentals; and access to equipment
suitability of that technology to go           manufacturing process testing and            suppliers’ on-site experts, as well as latest
forward to meet a business need, move it       proving can be undertaken, and where it      machine technology.
into pre-production and then into              can be matured. So machine tool                 But he also underlined specific
production at a world class standard”.         manufacturers such as Mori Seiki, MAG        benefits for Rolls-Royce over the past
    This is increasingly the system that the   Cincinnati and StarragHeckert have           three years. At the beginning, the AMRC
company applies to “anything we do in          supplied equipment on which new              was given a blank sheet of paper to
the area of manufacturing technology”,         processes can be developed.                  develop a next generation engine
he explains.                                                                                combustion casing manufacturing
    So Rolls-Royce sees this approach as a     UNIQUE BENEFITS                              process. The Centre took 18 months over
way of mapping its own and its                 Over three years, Rolls-Royce has seen the   the project, but at the end demonstrated
manufacturing technology supply chain          ‘unique benefits’ that the AMRC/FoF has      that it could make one equivalent in
partners, identifying where the gaps in        delivered, which the partnership manager     dimension and surface integrity to any
capability exist. “We have a major             summarises as: a strong industry pull        currently in production, using a brand

   The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre                                               hybrid (composite/metal) structures.
                                                                                               Other activities located within AMRC
  The Advanced Manufacturing Research           Forward, and is also part funded by the     are the IMPC (Innovative Metal
  Centre (AMRC) is a £45 million                European Union regional development         Processing Centre), focusing on additive
  partnership with Boeing that builds on        fund, the University of Sheffield and, of   manufacturing techniques. The Centre
  the shared scientific excellence,             course, the Boeing Company. It has          Of Excellence in Customised Assembly
  expertise and technological innovation        partners which also contribute an           (CECA), a collaboration between the
  of Boeing and the world class research        annual fee – Tier 1 companies, such as      universities of Loughborough,
  within the University of Sheffield’s          Rolls-Royce, pay £200,000. Other            Nottingham and Sheffield, and backed
  faculty of engineering. It built on the       partners include machine tool and           by industry partners. It will be the
  original AMRC founded in 1999 by              cutting tool suppliers, for example.        machining and drilling node of the
  Professor of Mechanical Engineering,              Due to the success of AMRC with         National Composites Network (see
  University of Sheffield, Keith Ridgway,       Boeing, it has moved into a new building    Machinery, April 2008, page 73).
  and Sheffield businessman, Adrian             to create “The University of Sheffield         Visit
  Allen.                                        Factory of the Future with Boeing
     The AMRC with Boeing, opened in            sponsored by Rolls-Royce” also called
  2004 on Rotherham’s Advanced                  “The Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future”.
  Manufacturing Park, received its initial          The vacated building will be taken,
  government funding of £5.93 million from      and expanded, by the Composites and
  the Department of Trade and Industry. It      Advance Materials Technology Centre
  received additional funding from the          (CAMTeC). It is focusing on low
  regional development agency, Yorkshire        temperature cure composites and     • September 2008

                        A network that integrates Rolls-Royce partnerships
                                  MCRL                                                                                         research centres in the UK or around the
                                                                 Strathclyde                                                   world.” And while he underlines
                                                                  University                                                   manufacturing processes, he also
                                         2                                                      UTC                            highlights the importance of driving
                                             3                                                                                 forward supporting technology such as
                                                 4                    AFRC                                 Sheffield
                                                                                                                               non-destructive testing, measurement,
                                                     5                                                     University
                                                                                                                               CADCAM and tool design.
                                                         6                                        AMRC
                                  AxRC                                                            (FoF)
                                                             7                  Equip.                                         RESEARCH NETWORK
                                                                               Supplier                                        Rolls-Royce is therefore building a
             UTC                                                 8                                                      UTC
                                          Equip.                     9                 Equip.                                  network of research centres to straddle
                                         Supplier                                     Supplier                                 the MRCL levels 4, 5 and 6 (see diagram).
                                                                                                                               So, in addition to the AMRC/FoF, Dr
                           AxRC                   Equip.                             Equip.           Singapore                McGourlay revealed Rolls-Royce’s plans
             UTC                                 Supplier                           Supplier                         A Star
                                                                      Equip.                                       Singapore   for its Advanced Forming Research
                                                                     Supplier                                                  Centre. This is to be established close to
                                                                                                                               its Inchinnan facility in Scotland (see
                                             AxRC                                         MTC                                  Machinery, 21 March, 2005, page 18). To
                     UTC                                                                                     UTC
                                                                                                                               be operational by mid-2009, this will be a
                                                                                               TWI                             new, purpose-built facility covering 3,000
                                     UTC                                                   Birmingham                          m2 that will focus on new forging
                                                                                          Loughborough                         techniques. The company is partnering
                                                                         UTC               Nottingham
                                                                                                                               with equipment suppliers here.
                                                                                                                                   To be established in the Midlands on
                                                                                                                               the Ansty Park, Coventry, the new,
     Rolls-Royce and equipment suppliers work closely through MCRL7-9 although many of the equipment                           15,000 m2 Manufacturing Technology
     and tooling suppliers have significant research capabilities supporting MCRL 2 onwards (eg NCMT). The                     Centre has attracted £30 million of
     traditionally weak zone of MCRL 4-6 is now supported by the newly formed Manufacturing Research                           funding from regional development
     Centres (MRCs). Research institutes broadly occupy the MCRL 1-3 zone. A network is formed by                              agencies Advantage West Midlands and
     creating partnerships to fill capability/maturity gaps and actively managing all of the key interfaces                    the East Midlands Development Agency.
                                                                                                                                   It will focus on high integrity welding
     new material and a brand new forging                                      or define what practice will be used for        and joining, fabrication, ‘autonomation’,
     process, and additionally demonstrating                                   next generation products,” he adds.             fixturing and tooling and operational
     rough machining up to 20x faster and                                         Now, having bridged the MRCL gap in          excellence, and the facility is expected to
     finish machining up to 8x faster.                                         the machining area, and with the AMRC           be operational at the beginning of 2010.
         Rolls-Royce was unable to take                                        now also active in other areas, such as         It will work with University of
     advantage of this in its current                                          composites, the partnership co-ordinator        Birmingham, Loughborough University,
     production facilities, but saw an                                         says that Rolls-Royce must look across its      the University of Nottingham and TWI.
     opportunity to bring some of the                                          whole “manufacturing process board” to          Interest from Airbus, Goodrich and JCB is
     elements into current projects which led                                  identify areas where similar gaps exist         also reported.
     to realisable improvements in cost                                        and where a similar effort to that of the           Outside the UK, a new Precision
     reduction, lead time reduction in                                         AMRC/FoF is required. For Rolls-Royce,          Technology Research Centre is to be built,
     production, or to the production of                                       this manufacturing process board                in Singapore focusing on surface
     demonstration parts that could be put                                     includes casting, forming, joining,             modification development. The 500 m2
     into test engines to show next generation                                 machining, finishing, coating, assembly,        lab and application space will be co-
     capability, Dr McGourlay explains.                                        and repair – covering all its activities from   located with Rolls-Royce’s production
         “Today’s range of projects sees                                       “primary manufacture through to                 facilities in that country. And as the
     AMRC/FoF working directly with our                                        aftermarket activities”.                        diagram clearly highlights there will be
     production facilities or with our                                            So, explains Dr McGourlay: “We see           further research centres, or expansions to
     [manufacturing technology] supply chain                                   the need to redeploy the AMRC model in          existing centres, to follow.
     companies, showing how this knowledge,                                    each of these areas, whether that’s                 They are the final piece of the jigsaw,
     defined in those early stages, can be                                     extending the capability of the AMRC or         and the catalyst was Rotherham’s
     redeployed to reduce cost or lead times;                                  building, funding or supporting new             AMRC.■

                                                                                                                               September 2008   •

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