Rolls-Royce orders product development simulator from VTT
Rolls-Royce, a leading manufacturer of high-powered aircraft and helicopter engines, has started to use a simulator developed by VTT to boost the efficiency of product development work on its jet engines. At the same time Rolls-Royce is playing its part in strengthening the competitiveness of the European aerospace industry. The company and VTT are already in negotiations concerning further work on the simulator project.
The design and production department at Rolls-Royce's Derby factory set the goal of shortening the product development time of a new engine model from 15 months to 9 months. Product development comprises, for example, the design and implementation of aerodynamics, structure, manufacturing and testing. Product development also encompasses parallel processes of several engine models, and the department must also be able to analyse quickly any defect that might be reported in some already existing engine type. VTT constructed an easy-to-use simulator for Rolls-Royce so that the company could manage a number of concurrent product development and other functions. The simulator is based on PC-level technology in general use.
The managers of the design and production department are now able to optimise the activities of the whole department for months in advance. The process descriptions of tasks, the working time to be spent of different sub-tasks, and factors such as holidays and other absences are all fed into the simulator. By trying out different alternatives, peak loads on the department can be eliminated and job assignments can be efficiently divided and timed, taking into consideration specified delivery dates.
VTT has a wealth of experience in production simulation, which in the case of Rolls-Royce's order it used for a new application - product development simulation. Rolls-Royce arranged the financing for this EUR 100,000 simulator development project out of a multi-year EU-funded aerospace industry project that it initiated. Dozens of European companies, research institutes and universities are involved in the project as a whole, with VTT as the only participant representing the Finnish research community. The aerospace industry has exacting requirements. This was apparent right from the outset of contract negotiations, for which VTT needed attorneys familiar with contract law. The parties decided to apply - neutrally - Swedish law.
According to Rolls-Royce's chief co-ordinator Dr. Alison J. McMillan, VTT's assignment was very challenging. VTT was up to the task and it is now training Rolls-Royce's designers to use the simulator.
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