Technology & Digital Innovation

Rising to the challenge

The 1b and 2b versions of the GEnx engine used in the all-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the 747-8, is a state-of-the-art turbojet that incorporates game-changing technology. It's well known at Avio Aero and represents one of the field-leading products for civil aviation: we are responsible for its accessory control transmission, low-pressure turbine, oil pumps and tanks. The casing for the low-pressure turbine is manufactured at our Brindisi plant: a casing as large as the one for the GEnx had never been made before at Avio Aero. The largest casing previously made there was for the PW308, so the first major challenge for this programme was coping with the dimensions. Before the GEnx Frames & Casing came to Brindisi, the plant was not a very advanced product centre. The development and planning of this programme dates back to 2006, and the first machines for the GEnx arrived in 2008, at the beginning of the industrialisation phase. These machines are up to 7 metres high, and are designed to work parts with a diameter of more than 1.5 metres. The product centre has therefore grown because of this engine, and the number of hours worked has tripled as a result: the correct choice and set-up of machines and resources and an optimised new plant layout has made it possible to manufacture 30 casings a month. Performance has been equally outstanding: in the first months of 2015 they passed from a 50 cases delay on the customer’s request, to a Zero Line of Balance, cancelling any eventual delay. This is an outstanding example of synergy and cooperation between central and Brindisi-based areas of our Supply Chain (Technology, Manufacturing and Quality), and also with Program Management, Strategy and Engineering, for support with initial design and subsequent management of QMs (Quality Modifications), in other words non-conformities identified, tackled and resolved with the aid of Engineering). By demonstrating the plant's skills and capacity, the work on GEnx opened the doors to two programmes that represent the future of civil aviation: LEAP and GE9X, or more precisely their turbine casings, will be manufactured and assembled in Brindisi on totally updated lines. “We are determined to repeat our success next year in terms of deliveries and quality,” commented Damiano Mazzotta, Manufacturing Shop Operations Manager for Casings & Frames at Brindisi. “Our FTY (First Time Yield, in other words the percentage of product that comes off the line in conformity with requirements after first processing, without any re-works - ed.) improvement is the ambitious goal we’re now aiming at, together with Mara Palcisco's team. We're also aiming at an LOB of 0 (this means Line of Balance and is an indicator of punctuality and quality of deliveries) on the GEnx, which has given us a lot of experience and an incredibly useful operating model for the work that awaits us on the enormously important LEAP programme.”