International Aero Engines (IAE) partner Rolls-Royce has cut the lead time from 60 to 10 days for manufacturing compressor discs and drums for the IAE V2500 turbofan.

The improvement has been achieved thanks to a new £2 million ($3.2 million) "lean" production cell, opened at R-R's Derby, UK, base in September 1997. The cell has recorded "tremendous productivity gains", says R-R.

The investment in the cell included new machine tools, such as vertical borers from the Czech Republic, horizontal lathes from Korea and jig borers from Germany, which are arranged in a U-shaped flow line.

The cell machines discs for four stages of the compressor, which are bonded with electron-beam welding beforehand.

Within the cell, other processes include "deburring", polishing and washing booths. There is a computer-controlled dimensional inspection machine and a visual inspection area for in-cell quality control, says R-R, which adds that these have removed previous transition times and bottlenecks between different parts of the factory.

The components have been the focus of attention as they are high value "Group A" critical parts holding the compressor blades in place for as many as 15,000 cycles (15-20 years) without removal.

Other "lean" investments made by R-R include £23 million in compressor aerofoil production at its Hillington plant near Glasgow, Scotland and £41 million for a new factory in Derby for finishing turbine blades cast at the adjacent precision casting facility.

Source: Flight International