The success of the TotalCare programme can be judged by the fact it has become a generic term in the MRO industry for a total support contract. For large civil engines, TotalCare coverage of the installed fleet has risen over the past 10 years from 3% to over 65%. Over 90% of large engine orders announced in the past three years have included TotalCare, and 90% of all in-service Trent engines are supported in this way. The company’s most recent sales success, with Singapore Airlines using Trent engines to power 20 Airbus A350-900s and five A380s, was no exception.
Kerr says the two key elements of the programme valued by customers are extending Time On Wing and mitigating shop visit costs. With a fixed cost per flying hour, the risk management is transferred to the OEM rather than the operator, which is a further attraction. He adds that a market survey has shown that TotalCare customers view their relationship with Rolls-Royce as a partnership, rather than being contract-led – others check the paperwork before looking at the problem. This is accounted for by the company’s view that it is a complement to airlines’ maintenance and engineering departments and is there to provide advice and support.
The company recently carried out a three-month research project, with the service development team looking at the competitive landscape, in particular at future developments that will provide ease of operation and more efficient use of man-hours and materials. The results were interesting, says Kerr, indicating that the industry will have to look at operating costs much more than it does now, while still keeping control of maintenance costs. This is particularly important as the fleet is set to double in the next few years. There is also a need for some new services to provide further assistance to the customer base. Under consideration are spares availability and enhanced spare engine support.
Engine health monitoring (EHM) has turned out to be one of the most effective aspects of the programme. Rolls-Royce uses EHM to track the performance of thousands of engines operating some 5.5 million flights a year worldwide, using onboard sensors and live satellite feeds. The company has operations centres in the UK, US and Germany. The UK centre in Derby monitors and analyses 67,000 hours of data from engines in flight each day.
The constant analysis of each engine’s performance helps managers plan maintenance activities in advance, maximising aircraft availability and preventing service disruption, as it can be used to predict possible events, averting potentially costly or significant technical issues. While that works for individual engines, it is the accumulated fleet data that is most valuable. Kerr describes it as “a neural network”, which learns from the data being received. If a problem arises, then an algorithm can be developed to provide earlier detection. As these are refined, more problems can be detected at earlier stages, which should lead to a reduction in the number of unscheduled engine removals. Customers can also be advised at a much earlier stage that a potential problem is developing in one of their engines, helping with maintenance planning on quite a long horizon, he says.
EHM analysis is provided by OSyS, a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce, which has responsibility for risk management, predictive equipment diagnostics and fleet reporting. Although not directly linked to TotalCare, some of its other services are also being used by customers, such as fuel management, emissions monitoring and engine wash optimisation. As the technology develops, there is increasing hard disk storage space available on newer engines, which is topped-up continually with total flight data. This should give even greater opportunities by OSyS for download and analysis.
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