Rolls-Royce takes new course on engine deal

11 May 2005
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12 May 2005 | David Arminas

Rolls-Royce plans to halve the number of suppliers working on its latest multi-million pound engine deal with Boeing.

The firm will also require closer engagement from suppliers for its Trent 1000 to be used on Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Dominic Horwood, director of Boeing programmes at Rolls-Royce, told SM: "I envisage we'll have between 50 and 70 suppliers. This is around half the number we have for the Trent 900 engines developed for the new Airbus A380."

Development time for the Trent 1000 from concept to certification has been reduced to 28 months, around two months less than previous projects. This places additional pressure on the supply chain to be more efficient, Horwood said.

The move is part of the plan for Rolls-Royce to work more closely with its main suppliers, allowing them a larger design role.

Integrated teams have been set up including engineers, designers, purchasers and suppliers.

"It's important that we are all focusing on a joint plan," he said.

Suppliers are chosen not just on quality, but on a willingness to engage. "We want to see how passionate they are about the project," said Horwood.

This means Rolls-Royce will be stepping back from some design work. "Perhaps in the past we have been too constraining and not allowed [suppliers] to innovate. It's a big step for us."

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