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A*STAR makes strides in Smart Manufacturing Technologies for aerospace

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Rolls Royce have together invested a further $8 million in their Smart Manufacturing Joint Lab which was set up two years ago with Singapore Aero Engine Services (SAESL).

These funds will be channelled towards developing smart manufacturing technologies.

SAESL collaborated with A*STAR to develop robots that automate spraying protective coatings on fan blades of aircraft engines. This allows for a consistent thickness for coatings, reducing defects and saving costs.

This helps to boost productivity as the robots can spray coatings on these fans in batches and they can they be left to dry at the same time, instead of spraying and drying them individually.

In an earlier OpenGov article, we reported on plans by A*STAR, Rolls Royce and SAESL to invest $60 million on setting up a joint lab.

This joint lab is a five-year collaboration programme for developing next-generation aerospace manufacturing and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) capabilities enabled by advanced process, automation and digital technologies.

These developed technologies will eventually be used at Rolls-Royce’s and SAESL’s facilities for improved productivity, costs savings and business competitiveness.

This programme consists of five main themes:

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

One of the goals for the joint lab is for the local manufacturing industry to adopt the latest technologies and be part of the high-value global manufacturing supply chain to produce strong economic returns for Singapore, in the form of business opportunities. These opportunities could from robust high-value aerospace focused business ecosystem for SMEs, encouraging more of them to adopt these latest technologies.

This ties with A*STAR’s Future of Manufacturing Strategy, which aims to ensure that Singapore remains competitive in manufacturing and technology innovation so that it is a prime location and a chosen spot for test-bedding cutting-edge technologies.

It is to be achieved with a three-pronged strategy made up of:

  1. Tech access– provide local enterprises, especially SMEs, with access to A*STAR’s advanced manufacturing equipment and facilities
  2. Tech adopt– offer SMEs a suite of easy-to-use technologies that can help them to improve productivity and will showcase ready-to-go (RTG) packaged solutions such as inventory-tracking, and business process automation systems
  3. Model factories– to be established at Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC)and at A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), to simulate production environments where companies can experiment and learn new manufacturing technologies, allowing SMEs to test new technologies with the help of public sector researchers

The joint lab has since worked on almost 30 research and development initiatives with around 100 companies, a part of which are made up of approximately 40 local companies.

A*STAR and Rolls Royce have plans to develop technology to repair high-value engine components with the additional funds they have put towards the lab. These new technologies could be shared with companies such as SAESL to create new opportunities and strengthen Singapore’s position as a leading place for aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul.

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