TUT’s hydraulics expertise convinced Rolls-Royce
Ships are like mobile hydraulics laboratories and provide endless scope and fascination for scientists.
The Rolls-Royce factory in Rauma is a world-leading provider of rotating propulsion systems and winches. Rolls-Royce’s collaboration with IHA Rauma, a research unit administered under the Department of Intelligent Hydraulics and Automation (IHA) at TUT, has continued for a decade.
“The City of Rauma is home to several companies operating in the field of mechanical engineering and forest industry. They use hydraulic systems in their production processes and solutions and contacted Tampere University of Technology (TUT) through Rauma Chamber of Commerce “, says Esa Mäkinen who heads the Hydraulics Research Laboratory at IHA Rauma.
”The Laboratory was quickly set up after an initial needs assessment had been completed. The first collaborative R&D project with Rolls-Royce was launched almost immediately, resulting in the development of a new energy-saving hydraulic winch.”
The Hydraulics Research Laboratory develops and tests heavy-duty hydraulic winches and is the only one of its kind in Finland. According to Mäkinen, it was clear right from the outset that the Laboratory would offer cross-disciplinary services.
“We have access to the University’s broad base of expertise and tailor our services to meet customer needs. We have a close partnership with Rauma Research Unit placed under the Department of Electronics. The Department of Materials Science has also provided expert services to Rolls-Royce on several occasions,” he says.
Rolls-Royce’s Technical Director Juha-Pekka Vesa who oversees the development of propulsion systems confirms the need for diverse expertise.
The majority of our employees who hold a master’s degree in technology graduated from TUT. The pool of local expertise ensures that Rolls-Royce can look forward to a bright future in Rauma.
“A propeller is just one component in a propulsion system that can be rotated a full 360 degrees. The system is a combination of a propulsion system and a rudder, so the R&D team needs to be familiar with gear and rotation technologies as well as the necessary casing and support structures.”
“The latest collaboration project between Rolls-Royce and TUT explores the properties of seals that are designed for slowly rotating applications. The project involves a great deal of testing. We’re also working on a joint research project that focuses on friction and lubrication,” he adds.
Sustainable pipeline of qualified employees
Technical Manager and Head of Application Engineering at Rolls-Royce Veli-Matti Hakala emphasizes that all new technologies and solutions developed by the R&D team undergo rigorous testing and quality control.
“The same quality standards apply to individual hydraulic valves and entire winch systems. New products are always tested, if the supplier changes,” Hakala says.
Rolls-Royce commissions master’s theses from TUT’s students on a regular basis. Both Hakala and Vesa believe that completing a thesis in an industrial setting gives students in-depth knowledge of the field. Sometimes a thesis placement leads to a job offer.
“The majority of our employees who hold a master’s degree in technology graduated from TUT. The pool of local expertise ensures that Rolls-Royce can look forward to a bright future in Rauma,” they say.
“Our collaboration runs smoothly, since TUT has a positive attitude towards industry partnerships,” adds Juha-Pekka Vesa.
The Hydraulics Research Laboratory in Rauma provides a backdrop for active collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Tampere University of Technology (TUT). The Laboratory was established by TUT in 2005 in response to feedback from local companies.
The Rolls-Royce Rauma site employs roughly 4,000 people and is responsible for the development, sales and marketing of winches and the assembly, development, sales and marketing of propulsion systems. Some of the propeller components are manufactured on site and some are supplied by external companies.