Aerospace 4.0 at Rolls-Royce: Solving problems before they happen

Digital technologies and increased use of data are having an impact right across Rolls-Royce. We talked to Alan Newby , Director, Aerospace Technology and Future Programmes, about where the company is seeing the biggest benefits, from manufacturing and supply chain to operations.

“If we can do more of the testing in the computer before we start building hardware it’s much more efficient and allows us to solve problems much earlier before we start building vehicles,” Newby says.

He adds, “We can [also] now start using data to anticipate problems in service and solve them before they even happen.”

"We can now start using data to anticipate problems in service and solve them before they even happen."

By Alan Newby, Rolls-Royce


  • Caetano Peng Avatar

    Caetano Peng

    There are at least two schools of thoughts on the matter of digitisation, the believe that everything can be predicted and design in a computer environment and the believe that physical testing is the true and ultimate assessment of reality. However, the future is more likely that the boundary between simulations and testing is going to be fluent and case dependent. An increase in risks is bound to occur if this boundary is incorrectly defined. The costs are most likely to cause biasing of this boundary. These are just cautious thoughts.

  • John Turner Avatar

    John Turner

    Experience to date - from many aircraft programmes - shows that a degree of physical flight testing will continue to be required for some time. System emulation, whether in physical rigs or virtual reality, tends always to replicate what the designer expected to happen, rather than what the designer's design actually does in practice when connected to the rest of the system. I am sure that emulation will get smarter but systems will become increasingly complex and inter-dependent too.

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