Mar 2015 – LBBC Technologies attend the most Advanced Blade Casting Facility in the world for the official opening by the Business Minister
Howard Pickard, Managing Director of LBBC Technologies said: “As a long term supplier to Rolls-Royce we are pleased to have played our part in this prestigious project, supplying both Boilerclaves® and Core Leaching Autoclaves. The equipment will play a key part in the manufacture of the turbine blades ensuring accuracy and quality of the blades during the de-waxing and core removal processes.”
Business Minister, Matthew Hancock said: “This new facility will house the most advanced blade casting facility in the world and is a truly remarkable feat of engineering. When fully operational, it will create 150 high skilled jobs and support the local economy.
“Our aerospace growth partnership has put in place a long-term industrial strategy for the whole aerospace industry and this investment by Rolls-Royce in new technology and modern manufacturing processes is testament to the ongoing strength of this sector. Continuing to back leading companies like Rolls-Royce, and supporting the UK’s manufacturing sector is part of the government’s long term economic plan.”
Gareth Davies, Rolls-Royce Executive Vice President, Turbines said: “It was a great pleasure to welcome the Business Minister to open the most advanced blade casting facility in the world. Rolls-Royce is committed to investing in innovative technology and world-class facilities to help us deliver our record £73.7 billion order book. This facility will use ground-breaking manufacturing techniques to produce single crystal turbine blades for our Trent engines including the world’s most efficient aero civil engine, the Trent XWB.”
The turbine extracts energy from the hot gas stream delivered by the engine’s combustor and uses it to drive the fan and the compressors. The blades produced in Rotherham operate in the hottest part of the engine at temperatures up to 200 degrees above the melting point of their alloy and sit in a disc that rotates at more than 12,000 rpm, creating a centrifugal force equivalent to the weight of a London bus hanging off each blade. They are grown in a special process which ensures that they are created from a single metal crystal to maximise their strength. They are then coated with a heat-resistant ceramic and when in use they are cooled with air that passes through a series of precisely placed holes in the blade.
The ABCF will have ground-breaking automated manufacturing techniques including integrated wax fabrication lines, 3D structured light inspection, which measures the entire surface of components and computed tomography (CT), which has the ability to measure deep into the blade’s internal structure. These techniques have helped reduce the time it takes to manufacture a turbine blade by 50% while producing a step-change in component performance. This state of the art facility makes use of manufacturing methods developed within Rolls-Royce and at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, Ansty, near Coventry. Some of the £15m investment by the UK Government was used by Rolls-Royce to develop these techniques.
There are two types of turbine blade manufactured at the Rotherham facility: high pressure (HP) and intermediate pressure (IP) single crystal blades. There are 182 turbine blades of these types in each Trent XWB engine. One HP turbine blade extracts around 1000 horsepower from the gas flow towards the rear of the engine, which is equivalent to the power of a Formula 1 racing car, to drive the engine’s compressors. Each blade is approximately 10cm in height and 300g in weight and goes through 200 processes before it is ready to be installed.
Rolls-Royce has marked the official opening of its new £110m Advanced Blade Casting Facility (ABCF) with a ceremony conducted by Business Minister Matthew Hancock. When fully operational in 2017, the 150,000 sq ft (14,000 sq m) facility in Rotherham will employ 150 people and have the capacity to manufacture more than 100,000 single crystal turbine blades a year.[...]
To ensure successful dewaxing, it is necessary to follow certain guidelines.
- Main objective to avoid shell cracking is to melt the wax at the wax/mold interface to allow the wax to be absorbed into the prime coat and create space for the remainder to expand. The critical time is from the mold being removed from the shell room to being at pressure in the autoclave.
- Keep this time to a minimum by having
- A simple effective loading system
- Fast reliable door operation with push button actuation to integrate with safety interlocks
- Short simple steam transfer from boiler section to autoclave section.
- Minimal restriction on steam entry and automatic air venting
- Aim for time from cycle start to achieving 90 psi to be under 3 seconds
- Control the rate of steam depressurisation
- Use steam from autoclave to ‘force’ wax to a large container through steam heated pipework
- Have clear push button operation and record basic system data through data collection or by network integration
The LBBC dewaxing Quicklock® Boilerclave® has been supplied to the industry for over 50 years and is used by most of the leading investment foundries in the world.
The removal of wax from molds is an important stage in the investment casting process that reduce yield if not performed correctly.
There are basically two generic methods for dewaxing – use of air i.e. flash fire or steam i.e. autoclave. Due to the unique heat transfer properties of steam – just put your hand over a boiling kettle with steam at only 21[...]
LBBC Technologies’ Managing Director Howard Pickard, recently presented at a Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and Leeds Manufacturing Forum event on how his company had been working with the University on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), said
“Being a local SME, it is important that we explore the opportunities the University of Leeds can offer us, using its expertise and facilities to further our product innovations.
“We identified the KTP initiative – run by Innovate UK – as the most effective form of collaboration and are nearing the end of a highly successful two and a half-year programme.
“The associate has brought a lot of expertise to our business, expertise we couldn’t have afforded to bring in ourselves and this has resulted in the development of new coating technology that will ensure our products remain globally competitive.”
During the recent Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and Leeds Manufacturing Forum-backed visit to the University of Leeds’ new £4.3m EPSRC National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems a rallying call was made. Yorkshire manufacturers were urged to embrace robotics and autonomous systems if they are going to make the most of new global opportunities and bring innovations to market.
More than 40 local manufacturers were given access all areas in a bid to showcase the opportunities for collaboration with Universities and how new technology – including one of the world’s largest multi-material 3D printers – can be used to develop new products, introduce new processes or build larger components.
LBBC Technologies have further expanded their process technology knowledge through a KTP projects with University of Leeds and an EngD project with University of Birmingham in conjunction with Rolls-Royce.
Dec 2014 – LBBC Technologies host visit as part of Future of Manufacturing Tour of Leeds City Region
Paul Stephens, UKTi said “We were impressed with the investment in new technology and the continued focus on export with 80% of LBBC Technologies turnover. Attendees also praised LBBC’s support of apprenticeships, engagement with universities and their Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, supporting the next generation of engineers and continually developing their knowledge and technology.”
On 20th November LBBC Technologies played host to a visit from UKTi’s team of Investment and Trade Advisors as part of their Future of Manufacturing Tour of Leeds City Region. MD, Howard Pickard gave a short presentation on the company, it’s products and the latest developments in autoclave technology. The attendees also then had a tour of the faci[...]
Following the conference a number of foundries met with Howard to discuss in more detail the technicalities of core removal and have subsequently sent parts for LBBC Technologies to run trials at their Leeds based facility.
With LBBC Technologies new developments in the revolutionising core removal and the recent launch of their new core leaching unit, Howard Pickard was requested to present on core removal at the International Seminar of Investment Casting-KHH and Taiwan Foundry Society’s conference.
Howard Pickard, Managing Director, said “This new facility is just fantastic for us and is a major investment in the future of the business enabling us to continue to grow, develop new technologies and expand further into new markets.”
Leeds City Region LEP supported the £1.5m project with a £130,000 grant from the business growth programme with Leader of the Council, Cllr Keith Wakefield and Cllr Richard Lewis, Executive Member for Transport and the Economy attending the opening and expressed their support.
Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council and Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) investment panel said: “Manufacturing is an important sector for the Leeds economy. It makes a major contribution in terms of jobs – with around 30,000 employed in the sector – as well as skills development and innovation. It’s great to see the investment being made by LBBC Technologies supported by the LEP. The company’s plans for continued growth are also very welcome in terms of providing a strong future for its current and future generations of employees.”
The event, well attended by business leaders from the local area, was an opportunity to hear more about the history of the company originally established in 1876 with current directors, Howard and Robert Pickard being the fifth generation to run the company. Guests enjoyed a tour of the new facility highlighting the extensive R&D work being carried out in conjunction with Rolls Royce and the universities of Leeds and Birmingham through KTP and EngD programmes. There were demonstrations of the latest control system designs, solid modelling and 3D printing technology. The assembly area contained equipment destined for various countries including Europe, USA and China as well as equipment to be supplied for the latest Astute submarines being built by BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness.
This week saw the Official Opening of LBBC Technologies new £1.5m manufacturing facility, it was opened by Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Commercial Director and cofounder, Adrian Allen OBE who said “I’m honoured to be part of this day for such a prestigious world leading manufacturer at the forefront of developing new technologies, inv[...]
John Parker, Chief Executive of the Cast Metals Federation (CMF) said “It was great to have the meeting at LBBC Technologies new facility and to see the impressive investment and work being done in future developments.”
LBBC Technologies hosted the Cast Metals Federation (CMF) Investment Casting Forum, Chaired by Managing Director, Howard Pickard at their new facility in Stanningley, Leeds on 22nd October. Around 20 key industry figures met for their meeting where they discussed the latest business developments affecting the sector. The group were given a tour of the facili[...]
Jeff Lantz, Director “This is a real benefit for our company, the new core leaching unit from LBBC Technologies enables us to confidently remove the cores, both simple and complex in a significantly shorter time than our previously sub contracted open bath method.”
Tech Castings are offering their new core leaching capability to other foundries in the USA.
LBBC Technologies having demonstrated their new core leaching unit at the ICI Equipment show, Kentucky, USA, LBBC Technologies had installed and commissioned the unit at Tech Castings in Indianapolis, USA within 3 days of the show closing. The new core leaching unit will mean that the process time will reduce from 8 days to 3 hours enabling the company to signif[...]
As LBBC have over 100 years of experience of manufacturing pressure vessels, Howard was requested to present on Pressure Vessel Safety particularly on autoclave safety and the importance of good equipment maintenance.
LBBC pressure vessels are fully certified thereby providing a guarantee of exceeding the required quality and safety standards. The pressure vessels are manufactured with U stamp approval and adhere to rigorous inspection procedures throughout manufacture.
LBBC Technologies, Managing Director Howard Pickard presented at the Precision Castparts Conference (PCC) in Ohio, USA. The conference ran from 15th to 16th October and was attended by around 65 Facilities and Health & Safety Managers from PCC group companies across the USA.
Work on the new 15,000 sq ft facility in Stanningley, Leeds, was completed at the end of August, following an eight-month build period managed by Triton Construction. The new premises feature 10,000 sq ft of manufacturing space for assembly, testing and development, plus 5,000 sq ft of modern office space.
The £1.5 million investment has been supported by a £130,000 grant from the LEP’s business growth programme. Funded through the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, the business growth programme is designed to help businesses expand and create jobs. It offers grants of between £10,000 and £500,000 to SMEs to cover up to 20% of the cost of capital investment in new premises, fit outs and equipment.
LBBC Technologies is a division of the £8.5 million turnover LBBC Group. It is a world leader in the supply of autoclave systems and related engineering activities used in a range of high pressure applications and environments.
The company recently supplied equipment worth over £1 million to Rolls-Royce for its new blades casting facility in Rotherham, one of the most advanced investment casting foundries in the world. Other clients include BAE Systems, and over 70 per cent of the firm’s sales go to export markets in the US, Russia, China, Asia and Europe.
Sister division LBBC Beechwood focuses on sub-contract activities of machining, dished heads and fabrication for the domestic market. With specialist capability and approvals to undertake pressure vessel manufacture and fabrication for the USA and China, LBBC Beechwood is well placed to work with UK partners as a key supplier to these markets.
Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said: “The Leeds City Region is a major centre within the UK for advanced engineering and the LEP is delighted to support this investment in new testing and development facilities, which will enable LBBC to continue as a global leader in its field.
“As the largest manufacturing centre in the country, the sector has a key role to play in driving above-trend growth and jobs as part of our strategy to develop the Leeds City Region as a powerhouse for the UK economy.”
The group currently employs a workforce of 70 and managing director Howard Pickard sees scope for further growth across both divisions of the group: “We’re aiming for £10 million turnover and there’s potential to go beyond that. In the process, we expect to increase the number and calibre of the people we employ.”
“The new facility for LBBC Technologies is critical to our strategy going forward, with the need for continuous investment in product development and testing to support highly specialised projects and maintain our position as global leaders in sectors such as investment casting. The new premises are now home to LBBC Technologies, providing space for our sister division LBBC Beechwood to expand into existing facilities on the site.”
LBBC, originating as the Leeds and Bradford Boiler Company Ltd is a long-established family-owned business and has been located at its current site in Stanningley, Leeds, since 1876. Howard Pickard and his brother Robert are the fifth generation of their family to run the business.
Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council and Chair of the LEP’s investment panel said: “Manufacturing remains an important sector for the Leeds economy, employing around 30,000 people and punching well above it weight both in terms of output and productivity. The investment by LBBC and its plans for continued growth are excellent news for the company and its workforce.”
With support from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a world-leading engineering firm based in Leeds has moved into new purpose-built manufacturing premises as part of a process of continuous investment that aims to push sales growth to £10 million and beyond.