Composite technology. Fan blades built by robots. Facility built by Merit.
This new hub of composite knowledge was built by Merit to enable Rolls-Royce to develop the next generation of fan blades and fan cases.
- This new 2,100m² R&D facility is to develop the next generation fan blades made of a carbon/TI composite.
- Merit self-performed M&E, process and cleanroom installations.
- Value engineering exercise of initial design resulted in 7% savings on tender price, lower energy consumption and improved reliability.
Rolls-Royce’s main competitors in the US started manufacturing composite blades in 2015. Rolls-Royce R&D had also been developing a similar technology but fully automated with large robot systems.
Technological features of the engine that are directing the move to composites reduce the weight by 350kg per plane. The size/power output of engines is limited with current titanium blade technology. It was clear therefore that the manufacturing facility would be an essential part of Rolls-Royce’s future strategy and to remain competitive, the project had to be delivered on time and to a fast track programme.
In June 2016, Merit was awarded the contract to design and fit-out this new pre-production facility (CTAL) at Rolls Royce in Filton, Bristol. The complex project comprised the alteration of part of Building 185, the Defence Aerospace Building, to form a new composite manufacturing pre-production facility, including structural and architectural design, as well as civils, M&E, steelwork, cleanrooms and mezzanine plant decks. The building of a cold store and new substation was also completed.
This complex project included the design and build of cleanroom manufacturing, laboratories and close temperature control metrology suites as well as office areas and a reception entrance suitable for high profile technology showcasing. The project also included the design, move-in and hook up of all manufacturing equipment.
We worked closely with Rolls-Royce to design in constructability and flexibility at an early stage to bolster programme advantages and cost certainty. This included a complete redesign of the HVAC system to give an improved technical performance as well as lower capital and energy costs.
The successful conclusion of this initial project at Bristol led to further refurbishment works to the building including civil works to existing cleanrooms (which were not planned as part of the original contract).