Factory of the future: Safran activates fully-automated helicopter engine turbine blade production line
As part of its “Factory of the future” strategy, Safran Helicopter Engines has started its first automated production line dedicated to turbine blade manufacturing. The event at its Bordes plant was celebrated in the presence of Alain Rousset, President of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region.
The new line will manufacture every turbine blade used in the company’s product line. Its activation represents a breakthrough, in terms of quality and competitivity, in this type of component manufacturing, coupled with a reduction in production cycle and tighter cost control. The time taken to build each blade will be cut by half.
Initiated in 2012, the line is today 100 % operational. With a 900 square metre footprint, the new production line features several robots and automated cells capable of performing every process (milling, polishing, etching, 3-D control, and surface finishing) from raw material to finished, ready-to-assemble turbine airfoil. Operators have been locally trained to adapt their skills to this new production line. It can produce more than 100,000 airfoils a year. Turbine blades are among the most complex parts in an aero-engine to produce. Designed to sustain high temperature and constraints, their manufacturing tolerance is measured in microns.
Philippe Darmayan, Alliance Industrie du Futur President, announces « Industry of the Future Showcase » labelling of this production line. Official announcement will happen on 6 December 2016 during the Salon Convergence pour l’Industrie du Futur, in presence of Christophe Sirugue, Secretary of State for Industry at the Minister of Finance and the Economy. This labelling celebrates company which has developed an innovative industrial project with numerical content.
Laurent Mazoué, Safran Helicopter Engines EVP Operations, says that opening of this « line of the future » “marks a new step in our “Factory of future” strategy which will maintain our manufacturing capacity at a world-class level. The automated and robotized production line will also greatly improve our competitivity and manufacturing agility and contribute to a high level of customer satisfaction. The skills and expertise of our teams, a key element in this project, will also be transformed”.
Safran Helicopter Engines’ “Factory of the future” program was launched in 2010, with the opening of the Joseph Szydlowski plant in Bordes (Pyrénées-Atlantiques). This was followed by the Mantes-Buchelay (Yvelines) plant opening in 2011 and, in 2015, the Cap 2020 Tarnos modernization program. Also in 2015, Safran Helicopter Engines introduced the serial production of additive manufactured (3-D printed) components in Bordes. Between now and 2020, other “lines of the future” will be introduced in Safran Helicopter Engines production facilities.
Safran is a leading international high-technology group with three core businesses: Aerospace (propulsion and equipment), Defence and Security. Operating worldwide, the Group has 70,000 employees and generated sales of 17.4 billion euros in 2015. Working independently or in partnership, Safran holds world or European leadership positions in its core markets. The Group invests heavily in Research & Development to meet the requirements of changing markets, including expenditures of more than 2 billion euros in 2014. Safran is listed on Euronext Paris and is part of the CAC40 index, as well as the Euro Stoxx 50 European index.
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