Farnborough: United Technologies goes digital

By Bjorn Fehrm

July 18, 2018, © Leeham News.: United Technologies (UTC) Chairman and CEO Greg Hays said in a Farnborough presentation: “UTC’s focus is a digital lifecycle for all its products.”

“We need to get a digital uninterrupted chain from the idea over development to production and then for the after-sales service. This is the only way we can achieve the increases in development and production efficiency expected of us going forward,” said Hays.

Producing more engines is all about the digital integration of the supply chain

“A good example of this digitalization is our increase in production rate and predictability of timely delivery of our Pratt & Whitney (PW) GTF engines to Airbus, Embraer and eventually Mitsubishi,” says Pratt & Whitney President Bob Leduc.

“Airbus wants a rate of 60 A320neo aircraft per month with a surge to 63 for next year. We have the technical problems behind us. Now it’s all about the supply chain. It decides if we are to reach and sustain these production rates. It’s a matter of how our suppliers can cope with the investments needed and how they can be digitally integrated into the PW production chain,” said Leduc.

“When yesterday we knew a part for the engines shipped late from a supplier, it was too late to do anything about it. Today I can see on a daily basis if a part starts its journey at the supplier late. Now we can proactively do something about it. Next step is we can follow the part all the time. The digital integration of the supply chain gives us another level of control and reaction ability,” said Leduc. “The way there goes over digitalization of all our steps in research, development, production and supplier integration. After customer delivery, we can also monitor how the products perform in the field and react fast to any issues.”

New “Skunk Works” unit helps with digitalization

To increase the pace of the digitalization and to develop new products faster, new development and production methods will be developed in the new United Technologies Advanced Products group, UTAP.

This “Skunkworks” like organization is set up by new CTO Paul Eremenko (ex. Airbus). UTAP will use new methods and technologies like additive manufacturing to speed up product innovation and development. After successful creation of demonstrators, the results will be integrated back into the product divisions.

11 Comments on “Farnborough: United Technologies goes digital

  1. Impressive—how these UT/P&W guys got away without saying one word about the 100 or so AB “gliders” jamming AB’s ramps, and when they’re going to fully clean up the gtf engine backlog mess they created! It appears, from a current Flightglobal article, it’ll be at least mid 2019, and may possibly “bleed over” into 2020. New and improved knife edge seals anyone? LOL

    • I never bought it was the seat vendor as the problems for the new GTF planes. UTC outsourced too many components to this engine like Boeing did in its 787 program, and they are still struggling to bring this back under control of the mother ship in first rate manufacturing plants.

      • And you were aware that LEAP is 7 weeks behind on delivery?

        No engine mfg is vertically integrated.

        P&W outsources happen to include MTU and the 3 Japanese mfgs from the V2500 program. All of which performed well enough for the V2500 to be a success.

        P&W focused on the critical aspects and did neglect some of the other parts.

        LEAP is having their own issues

        Its a combination of a tight development window and unprecedented ramp ups.

  2. My understanding is that besides the seals there were more problems to solve. A big one was productivity of the aluminum fan blades, which didn’t work as planed. Then there was the problem with the bending shaft,…

    Looks like they have learned their lesson and are investing in exactly the right place right now. I know how difficult it can be to straighten out the production of large quantities of a new product.

    It looks like they have in fact good control over the technology of the GTF. With continuous improvements and a streamlined production they have a chance to enlarge their market share quite a bit.

    • Thanks, raises another interesting question: Where are they on the dreaded rotor bow, and the finicky engine start procedures to avoid same?

      • Per Flight Global on the E2, startup is 1 minute 40 seconds in line with 737 start times.

        Frankly that seems to be vastly overblown and easily mitigated.

        My question was, why did Airbus choose the mounting system they did that exacerbated it into an issue? Its a well known problem.

        C series avoided that and a bit of programing change looks to have eliminated it as an issue on that aircraft.

        • The critical parts of the engine work fine.

          Better to focus too much on that than on the fixable stuff and then have a Rolls Royce type meltdown!

          I would much rather be in P&W shoes!

          • They went with more sources for the blades.

            A hiccup that did not look like it would be an issue and then they found out in production it was harder to crank out (more losses) than their pre industrialization data said it would be.

            Always an interesting big step change from hand built to series build.

            GE had that issue on the GenX 787 engine when they went to a different coating system on the engine and severe corrosion resulted.

            Somewhere their info and data said it would be a perfectly good equal materials swap, also clearly it was not.

            Those are the things that bite you and the challenges of any widget let alone something horrendously complex with tolerance that are insane on a Jet engine.

  3. Up to that they have a relatively easy way to improvement – the way LEAP core is done…..

  4. I have to laugh. We know when a part will be late.

    Ok, do you have spares? If you do then you just sub in that when you find its late.

    If its late and its sole source, do you tell the guys to take the day off as they can’t finish that engine?

    I really hope there is more substance to the so called digital thing than a manage is able to convey.

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