Collins Aerospace will break ground next month on a new innovation hub in Singapore that will focus on advanced MRO and additive manufacturing processes. According to the company, the hub will focus on a wide variety of technologies to improve its manufacturing and operations.
The 15,000 ft.2 innovation hub will be constructed at Collins’ Changi MRO Campus, which will build on the company’s existing presence in the Singapore region. A Collins representative says Singapore’s comprehensive innovation ecosystem, along with strong interest and support from its government, were primary reasons for the decision to invest in the new facility. The company says it is looking to leverage its footprint and scale in Singapore as a beta test bed and prototyping concept.
“We’re experiencing tremendous growth and transformation in aerospace globally, and we are focused on innovation in order to remain at the forefront of advanced methods and materials for maintenance, repair and overhaul solutions,” says Ajay Agrawal, president of aftermarket services, Collins Aerospace. “We are proud to collaborate with the Singapore Economic Development Board to optimize our customers’ experience through the application of new technologies this lab will produce.”
The innovation hub will include a lab for automation, smart factory development and advanced manufacturing. In terms of automation, Collins’ Singapore facility is already using robotics technology such as an Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle to move products to different areas of the building, which it says has significantly reduced operator walking distance and lead time. According to a company representative, a key area of focus for the innovation hub will be on repair and manufacturing automation, including robotics, digitalization and artificial intelligence.
Although Collins already has three additive manufacturing labs in the U.S. to support its business units, the new Singapore facility will be the company’s first outside the region—as well as its first additive facility with titanium capability. The lab will focus on prototyping, development, tooling and low-rate production of additive materials.
Paula Hay, executive director of additive design and manufacturing at Collins Aerospace, says the company is focused on parts across of a wide spectrum of materials in addition to titanium, such as aluminum, Inconel, copper, nickel and other special alloys. “The additive lab in the Singapore innovation hub will further our additive capabilities and techniques,” she says.
At MRO Americas earlier this year, Hay told Aviation Week that Collins aspires to develop 20 production-ready metal arts this year, potentially including heat exchangers, housings, valves and certain brackets. Prior to 2019, the company only had one additively manufactured part in production.
“It’s a very exciting time for additive technology as it moves out of the research and prototyping realm and into production,” says Hays.
An official groundbreaking ceremony for the Singapore innovation hub will take place in August. Collins expects the facility to open in Q1 2020.