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Thursday, June 1, 2006

Rolls-Royce Engine Support

Heavy Metal Hardball

More manufacturers, like engine-maker Rolls-Royce, are getting engaged in continuous support and maintenance of their products after the original sale.

Britain doesn't have many leading edge technology businesses these days and many of the household names of yesteryear have gone. But one has bucked the trend completely, remaining at the top of its game and carrying a name synonymous with unrivalled quality and reliability, Rolls-Royce. The company is now leading the field, not only in big engines sales but also in support of those engines so that airlines can get on with their core business of flying people and cargo around the globe.

Rolls-Royce is the world's number one manufacturer of large turbofans. Some 500 airlines rely on Rolls-Royce power and the company has about 11,000 engines in service on aircraft from business jets to widebody airliners. Thrust ranges from 2,000 lb. to almost 100,000 lb. The company says that the Trent series has 50 percent of the widebody market.

But here's an interesting statistic: of the �3 billion sales in 2004 (about $5.4 billion), 59 percent came from services! And that figure will rise as Rolls-Royce takes on more and more responsibility for its engines in operation.

Rolls-Royce's repair and overhaul capability has expanded to 16 sites on four continents, and now has the capacity to overhaul over 40 engine types from a range of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Growth has been achieved through a combination of organic development, strategic acquisition and partnership with customers.

The organization has its headquarters in Derby, England - the original center for large civil engine overhaul. This site is now complemented by joint ventures in Hong Kong, Dallas and Singapore, which provide overhaul on large civil engines such as the Trent and RB211 in partnership with HAECO (a sister company of Cathay Pacific), American Airlines and SIA Engineering Company. In February 2003 a further enhancement was made to the Rolls-Royce network when the N3 Engine Overhaul Services was announced, which will provide further Trent overhaul capability in a 50:50 joint venture with Lufthansa Technik.

For its airline customers, Rolls-Royce offers the TotalCare service agreement (CorporateCare for business aviation) and of the 11,000 engines in service, 40 percent are covered by one of these. Over 60 percent of the Trent fleet is on TotalCare. So what does TotalCare mean?

According to the company, TotalCare provides a single source solution ensuring "peace of mind" for the overall lifetime support of the engine. It allows customers to:

  • Transfer the technical and financial risks associated with engine aftercare to Rolls-Royce.
  • Concentrate on core business.
  • Increase control of financial planning.
  • Improve efficiency.

    As the OEM, Rolls-Royce has the product knowledge and worldwide fleet experience necessary to provide this service. In recognition of this growing requirement, a dedicated services organization has been established to work closely with customers to research, develop and introduce future value-added solutions.

    Optimum Cover

    TotalCare is available to all airline fleets, irrespective of size. Its comprehensive service covers all aspects of engine support facilities, comprising:

  • Off-wing management.
  • Information and engine health monitoring.
  • In-service support.
  • Inventory management.

    TotalCare is about adding value and benefit to an airline's business by:

  • More effective use of resources.
  • Release from maintenance "hassle."
  • Predictable costs - providing greater visibility and control of future financial planning through an agreed dollar rate per flying hour.
  • Reduced financial risks - no surprises.
  • Reduced capital investment - Rolls-Royce can provide finance for support provisioning (spare engines, parts and tools).
  • Minimizing operational disruptions by "avoidance management."
  • Reduction of total acquisition cost of service provision (reduction in administration of multi service providers, streamlined process, greater efficiency, minimal cost).

    Recently, Aviation Maintenance visited Roll's new AR&O (Aero Repair and Overhaul) facility at its Derby, UK, headquarters and spoke with Petar Kontich, the company's director of service delivery. "We've embarked on a very different kind of world in what we call TotalCare. This new environment puts tremendous pressure on the highest levels of reliability, airworthiness and safety at the least total cost. Doing a better job of managing the cost structures of delivery is a key challenge for us right now. This is in the face of huge growth," he said.

    "Sales of the Trent and some of the other families, the AE3007 and the V2500, have generated new products and volumes for AR&O to deal with. We're on a very steep slope in terms of building the capacity and capabilities to service it. This comes at a time when the airlines' focus is changing. They're stepping back from any aspects of their business that are not considered core. On our engines, they're giving those responsibilities to Rolls-Royce to manage on their behalf," he said.

    Kontich stressed that Rolls now has to think and act as the airlines once did. "We have to learn how to become the customer. If you've been an OEM all your life and you know how to build something brand new, and now you're being tasked to do what the airlines have been doing for the last 30-40 years in driving the best value out of the product, it's a major cultural change. Delivering best value requires the relentless development of new repair technologies and practices," he said.

    "Setting the right kind of performance indicators is an important piece of the change. It used to be about selling products. Now it's about maintaining that product at the least total cost, without compromising performance or safety," he added.

    "We're taking on much more than technical ownership of the engine. In the traditional time and material (T&M) days we would have seen an engineering group inside of our customer. Today, that customer is realizing that this is not their core business. They want to find somebody else who can credibly do it for them, in a cost effective manner," he explained.

    Another focus of TotalCare is keeping the engine on-wing as much as possible. Deciding to remove an engine for maintenance is an expensive and time-consuming operation and obviously requires the availability of another engine; all of this has major costs associated with it. "The changes involved in TotalCare are much broader than in the old T&M days. Here we're into on-wing care, supply chain management, and taking responsibility for leased engines that may have been customer purchased in the past," Kontich said.

    "Our focus in repair technology is finding a way to employ NDE (non-destructive evaluation) of parts while the engine is still on the wing. Instead of just, say, boroscoping to find if we've got a problem, we're finding ways of affecting a repair with the engine on-wing. There's huge opportunity here when you think of the implications on spare engines, on time, on moving engines around," he said.

    Of course, sometimes an engine has to be removed, but TotalCare can deal with this equally well. Where engines or engine parts cannot be replaced on-wing, TotalCare provides a high level of repair and engine overhaul service. All repairs are carried out at Rolls-Royce authorized overhaul facilities, the majority of which are part of the global Rolls-Royce network of repair and overhaul establishments.

    The service includes material, labor and testing for:

  • Unscheduled maintenance.
  • Mandatory repairs.
  • Recommended Service Bulletin actions.
  • Life limited parts replacement.
  • Foreign object damage repair.

    Similarly, refurbishment of line replacement units can be included in the agreement, removed on or off-wing. Rolls-Royce is responsible for engaging, monitoring and managing the vendor network to deliver to agreed service levels.

    Other areas that Rolls-Royce is concentrating on include coatings and adaptive machinery. Instead of moving parts from one machine to another for different processes, the company is looking for ways a single machine might do, say, 13 tasks. That'll have a significant bearing on cost.

    Rolls is linked in very well to the university system and to industry and collaborates well in taking advantage of the expertise that other people have. "We're trying to accelerate things in that way," says Kontich. Again a major focus here is repair technology in the drive to reduce cost of operation.

    Health Monitoring

    A great deal of health monitoring technology has come out of the helicopter industry (see related story, AM February 2006, page 30). These aircraft are completely reliant on some mechanical systems where failure is catastrophic. So sensors and computer systems have been developed to collect data on such things as vibration, temperatures, pressures etc., allowing analysis and the detection of unhealthy trends.

    Of course Roll-Royce has been powering helicopters for decades and has therefore been at the forefront of health monitoring technologies. These are now finding applications in the company's big fans. Kontich said, "Again it's about managing the engine on-wing as effectively as possible. Engine diagnostics, and predictive analysis that our technical people are doing, feed into the operations control room, the hub of global fleet support for large engines, to see how they are performing, combined with flight log monitoring."

    The company is able to monitor 3,000 engines in real time, collating technical data streamed via satellite in flight. The growing sophistication of these predictive maintenance tools has resulted in increased capability for potential technical issues to be caught before they become disruptive and costly problems for the airline.

    "There's still a lot of opportunity about how we use the intelligence that comes out of the process. We're just scratching the surface of its ultimate potential. We're working very hard to capitalize on the feedback mechanisms that we have in the shop. We have the opportunity to listen to engines each and every day. And our engines talk to us when they're in the shop. They're telling us what's good, what's bad and what needs attention," Kontich said.

    Engines in the workshop don't generate any revenue for the customer. Rolls-Royce is continually reducing the time engines spend in maintenance and the predictive systems help here in that technicians know a lot of what's wrong with an engine before they get it. Different operators face different environments and have different modes of operation; things such as sector lengths, low-level atmospheric conditions and airport conditions can vary and these things can have an influence on how engines deteriorate.

    "We've built more capability into our IT system for feeding information back to our technical people, telling them what they should be paying attention to. We're managing what we do to engines in terms of time. We're striving for very ambitious turnaround times (TRTs) on engines," Kontich said.

    Of course, even with health monitoring, unexpected maintenance requirements do crop up and they have to be allowed for. But there is the issue of unnecessary work in which an over-emphasis on some parameters can lead to work being done which really isn't needed. "We need very disciplined processes for making sure that we're controlling the workscope creep (encountering unexpected work and doing unneeded work). We're constantly challenging tasks, their frequency and their work content. If you don't, you find that you're good at adding things but not good at taking things out," Kontich said.

    Design for maintenance is a key issue and Rolls-Royce has a good system for taking the maintenance engineers viewpoint into the design process. The Trent 900 and 1000 are good examples of design for maintenance. Kontich said, "Our repair and overhaul people have been very involved from the design of the engines, for maintainability, reliability, ease of access, task frequency and work content. It's getting better with each engine that we design."

    In-Service Support

    Fleet operation is a 24/7 business, requiring round-the-clock top quality support to ensure aircraft are kept in the air. TotalCare achieves this primary aim by providing the technical knowledge, personal support, and emergency inventory to avoid engine related problems disrupting flying operations.

    TotalCare provides a wide range of technical documentation, training and support. This enables customers to be kept well informed on the technical know-how, capabilities and performance of the engines they are operating. Updates to technical publications are issued for the duration of the agreement.

    If customers require personal assistance, immediate help is close at hand. Apart from a dedicated customer TotalCare manager, Rolls-Royce has field and headquarters support staff in 70 global locations. From a world-wide network of over 170 local Service Representatives back up is available, when and where it is needed, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    But emergencies will always happen and engines will become unserviceable. TotalCare assures that the impact will be minimized by guaranteed availability of line maintenance inventory, from replacement spare engines, spare parts, tooling to overhaul consumables.

    Growth

    A big challenge for the next 10 years will be managing growth. Rolls-Royce's marketing and sales people have been very effective and those engines will come back for maintenance in a few years. The next 10 years will see a large increase in the big fans alone.

    Kontich said, "We are fortunate that we have come to arrangements with some of the key carriers of the world, such as Singapore, American Airlines, Cathay and Lufthansa, in creating joint ventures which are serving us well in terms of them bringing the airline perspective on MRO. We've come a long way in a short period in building a sophisticated infrastructure and capability. Rolls-Royce has brought tremendous intellectual capital to the party. We have to partner in the right way with the customer to get the job done."

    With the growth of its operations, Rolls-Royce AR&O is in the process of adding about 400 people network-wide. The company does its planning on a three year horizon, looking at the demand expected. The company makes the investment decisions in the second year to position itself for what's needed in the third.

    "We've just spent �100 million (about $180 million) here in Derby and on the N3 facility we're building in Germany, and we have well-advanced plans to do some further developments in East Kilbride (Scotland) in terms of new facilities and processes," Kontich said.

    "We have just put in some automated cells in Singapore with our partner SIA in the airfoil area and they are reaping huge benefits. A part of that is the feedback mechanism which tells engineering how to help us. Determining the state of the part before we put it through process is critical. We've taken a very different approach in these last few years to the kind of facility we put up. There was, in the past, a tendency to dedicate lines to certain product families, and what we've found is that we want to have very flexible capability and be able to move in today, for example, a Trent 500 and tomorrow a 700 and then an 800 and 900 and be able to swap types between plants," Kontich explained.

    As with any company, there are still things to learn. "With our joint venture partners and our suppliers we're constantly learning new ways of getting increased efficiencies (see box on page 15). We had a large conference here recently where we brought in about 250 suppliers from around the world. We spent two whole days with them looking at how we could better work together to drive cost out of the process," Kontich said.

    Sidebar 1:

    The Drive for

    Increased Efficiency:

    Two Examples

    1. Doing less teardown of assemblies before sending them to subcontractors for maintenance. For instance, rather than splitting blades from a disc for maintenance, sending the blade/disc assembly out complete, and having it come back from the contractors complete, thus reducing Roll's assembly workload.

    2. In information technology (IT), Rolls is looking at getting the system to prioritize work, rather than leaving these decisions solely to the engineer.

    Sidebar 2:

    Customers and Potential Clients Laud TotalCare

    Much of Rolls-Royce's recent success has been attributed to its service back-up as much as the quality of its engines.

  • South African Airways (SAA) is on TotalCare. Andre Viljoen, the president and chief executive of SAA, said, "According to the TotalCare program, SAA pays the engine maker for every hour SAA flies the Airbus aircraft using their engines. Rolls-Royce maintains the engines. We are very pleased with the peace of mind this contract provides us. Our passengers can be assured of care free flying."
  • Bob Reding, senior vice president of American Airlines is another fan of TotalCare. He said, "Rolls is incentivized to put expensive modifications into the engine to improve reliability."
  • Icelandair is in talks with Rolls to get on the TotalCare program. Jens Bjarnason, managing director of Icelandair Technical Services, said, "We're negotiating to enter into an agreement for the RB211 and the Trent for the B787. We hope to finalize this in the next few weeks. We think the program has big potential."
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