A*STAR, Rolls-Royce and SAESL launch S$60 million Smart Manufacturing Joint Lab

18 September 2017 – The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), British power systems technology company Rolls-Royce, and Singapore Aero Engine Services Private Limited (SAESL), will invest up to S$60 million to set up a Joint Lab to develop Smart Manufacturing technologies.

The joint lab is a five-year collaboration programme between A*STAR, Rolls-Royce and SAESL. It will develop next-generation aerospace manufacturing, as well as Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) capabilities enabled by advanced processes, automation and digital technologies.

The A*STAR research institutes supporting this joint lab with relevant capabilities are the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R), Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), as well as the National Metrology Centre (NMC).

This is the first joint investment that A*STAR, Rolls-Royce, and SAESL have made on advanced manufacturing technologies.

The programme comprises five main themes:

  • Smart Assembly Systems – Application of intelligent automation across processes such as module assembly, alignment, functional testing and inspection;
  • Integrated Remanufacturing Technologies – Advanced repair and remanufacturing methods including automation, laser metal deposition, adaptive technology, and smart inspection technology;
  • Advanced Fan Blade Manufacturing – Automation of the fan blade value chain to enable higher productivity and improved right-first-time performance;
  • Future Manufacturing Processes – Development of advanced processes such as Additive Layer Manufacturing, robotics and surface conditioning; and
  • Knowledge-based Manufacturing – Use of digital (Industry 4.0) methods to improve quality, cost and delivery performance at process, factory and enterprise levels.

This programme will leverage ARTC’s Model Factory, as well as A*STAR’s other relevant capabilities to test-bed new technology applications for the aerospace industry. The developed technologies will eventually be used on-site at Rolls-Royce and SAESL’s facilities for improved productivity, costs savings and business competitiveness.

The joint lab is a significant milestone in Singapore’s push for the future of manufacturing. It will develop cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, such as the additive manufacturing (3D industrial printing) of complex aero-engine components, as well as advanced robotic and automatic solutions. This could subsequently carry significant spin-off benefits to other relevant local industry sectors, such as precision engineering.

One of the joint lab’s goals is for the local manufacturing industry, especially SMEs, to adopt the latest technologies, and be part of the high-value global manufacturing supply chain to generate economic outcomes in Singapore. These new business opportunities could then form a robust high-value aerospace-related business ecosystem for local enterprises.

A*STAR Chairman Lim Chuan Poh said: “The A*STAR-Rolls-Royce-SAESL Smart Manufacturing Joint Lab demonstrates A*STAR's commitment to working with the enterprises to sustain the competitiveness of the local manufacturing sector, a key pillar of Singapore's economy. Our Future of Manufacturing strategy involves bringing together ideas, resources, people and along the innovation value-chain from MNCs to SMEs on a synergistic platform to co-create and co-develop to benefit Singapore’s future economy.”

Rolls-Royce Chairman Ian Davis said: “This agreement is further evidence of our special relationship with Singapore that began over 50 years ago. This continues to flourish as we make ground-breaking technological advances, together. Singapore, as demonstrated by its Future of Manufacturing initiative, is continually transforming, able and inventive. That is why Singapore is a compelling partner to work with.”

Manufacturing is a key pillar of Singapore’s economy, contributing to 20 per cent of the country’s GDP, and employing 14 per cent of the total workforce in 2016.

As an important aviation hub in Asia, Singapore continues to attract one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of aerospace companies. The total output from the local aerospace industry is worth over S$8 billion, 85 per cent of which comes from MRO activities and the rest from manufacturing. Today, Singapore is the most comprehensive aerospace MRO hub in Asia, accounting for 10 per cent of global MRO output1.

Rolls-Royce is the largest civil aero-engine manufacturer in the world and has a strong presence in Singapore, including two manufacturing facilities – a fan blade manufacturing facility (FBSG), and the Seletar Assembly and Test Unit (SATU) for engines. Since the opening of its Seletar facilities in 2011, Rolls-Royce has invested more than S$1.5 billion in its Singapore operations.

SAESL is a leading maintenance, repair and operations powerhouse in Asia, with capabilities to perform engine overhauls for the entire family of Rolls-Royce Trent aero engines.

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

A*STAR is Singapore's lead public sector agency that spearheads economic-oriented research to advance scientific discovery and develop innovative technology. Through open innovation, A*STAR collaborates with partners in both the public and private sectors to benefit society. As a Science and Technology Organization, A*STAR bridges the gap between academia and industry. A*STAR’s research creates economic growth and jobs for Singapore, and enhances lives by contributing to societal benefits such as improving outcomes in healthcare, urban living, and sustainability. A*STAR plays a key role in nurturing and developing a diversity of talent and leaders in Agency and Research Institutes, the wider research community and industry. A*STAR oversees 18 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities primarily located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis.

About A*STAR’s Future of Manufacturing Strategy

  • To prepare Singapore’s manufacturing industry for the future economy, initiatives by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) on the Future of Manufacturing (FoM) strategy were outlined at the Committee of Supply Debate 2017 in March.
  • The goal is to sustain Singapore’s competitiveness in manufacturing and technology innovation, so that it is a location of choice for test-bedding cutting-edge technologies.
  • The FOM Strategy is a three-pronged one:
    • Tech Access provides local enterprises – especially SMEs – with access to A*STAR’s advanced manufacturing equipment and facilities. These range from inspection tools to advanced equipment such as robotised 3D-scanners and laser powder beds for additive manufacturing. In the first phase launched on 8 Sept 2017, 19 types of equipment are made available to companies.

      The aim is to help SMEs build capabilities in advanced manufacturing through the use of the latest machine tools, new processes, prototyping and testing. The companies can then go on to acquire relevant equipment to capture new business opportunities.

      A*STAR will also provide SMEs with user training and technical advice through activities such as small-scale feasibility studies and prototyping projects.

    • Tech Depot offers SMEs a suite of easy-to-use technologies that can help them to improve productivity. This is a new addition to the SME Portal that went live on 20 Apr 2017. It will showcase ready-to-go (RTG) packaged solutions such as inventory-tracking, and business process automation systems.

    • Model Factories will be established at two locations - one at A*STAR’s Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), and another at A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech).

      The Model Factory @ ARTC will be a Factory of the Future platform for companies investing in advanced manufacturing processes with a focus on coupling smart and virtual (i.e. Digital Twin) capabilities. Target end-users include larger enterprises and MNCs in heavy engineering such as the aerospace sector. The features of Model Factory@ARTC include a virtual production line for companies to model their product design and development before commencing work on a physical prototype.

      The Model Factory @ SIMTech will encompass a digital Learning Factory platform particularly for companies at the beginning of their FoM journey. A key feature of Model Factory@SIMTech is the live pilot-scale production line which will demonstrate how advanced manufacturing technologies operate in a real-life environment.

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc

  • Rolls-Royce’s vision is to be the market-leader in high performance power systems where our engineering expertise, global reach and deep industry knowledge deliver outstanding customer relationships and solutions. We operate across five businesses: Civil Aerospace, Defence Aerospace, Marine, Nuclear and Power Systems.
  • Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 4,000 marine customers including 70 navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.

We have three common themes across all our businesses:

  • a) Investing in and developing engineering excellence
  • b) Driving a manufacturing and supply chain transformation which will embed operational excellence in lean, lower-cost facilities and processes
  • c) Leveraging our installed base, product knowledge and engineering capabilities to provide customers with outstanding service through which we can capture aftermarket value long into the future.
  • Annual underlying revenue was £13.8 billion in 2016, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services. The firm and announced order book stood at £80 billion at the end of 2016.
  • In 2016, Rolls-Royce invested £1.3 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 31 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.
  • Rolls-Royce employs 50,000 people in more than 46 countries. More than 16,000 of these are engineers.
  • The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills. In 2015 we employed 228 graduates and 277 apprentices through our worldwide training programmes.

About Singapore Aero Engine Services Pte Ltd (SAESL):

  • SAESL is a joint venture between SIA Engineering Company Ltd (SIAEC) and Rolls-Royce plc.
  • The company started operations in 2001 and has since overhauled more than 2,500 Trent aero engines for 21 customers.
  • SAESL provides a wide range of services including engine overhaul, component repair and engine test.
  • SAESL’s facility has the capacity to overhaul 320 engines per year and employs a workforce of 1,100 highly skilled people with technical expertise and Trent engine knowledge.

1 Source: EDB