Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines on view on the assembly line at the Rolls Royce factory Source: Paul Ellis / POOL / AFP

Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines on view on the assembly line at the Rolls Royce factory Source: Paul Ellis / POOL / AFP

Rolls-Royce turns to AI to predict engine problems

THESE days, more and more companies are turning to artificial intelligence technology to solve complex industrial problems.

Aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has recently announced that it is partnering with US-based AI outfit, Uptake to detect potential operational issues in its Trent engine fleet.

Rolls-Royce is expecting to leverage Uptake’s predictive analytics and machine learning technology to improve the reliability and increase the in-service time of the jetliner turbines.

According to media reports, the London based company has been forced to deal with issues affecting the blades on some of its Trent engines, resulting in delayed aircraft deliveries by Boeing and Airbus.

Boeing and Airbus use Rolls-Royce’s Trent engine to power their 787 Dreamliner jets and A330neo widebody aircraft respectively.

Uptake’s AI technology is not meant to resolve design and manufacturing issues, but instead to track the impact of its customer airlines.

Rolls-Royce has been utilizing data analytics as a part of the brand’s TotalCare offering for years, and Uptake’s software is expected to further extend the engine life and cut downtime.

The company’s senior VP of services for the group civil-aerospace arm, Tom Palmer in a statement said, “With industrial AI and machine learning techniques, we can increase the uptime of our engines and help customers extend the life and value of their critical assets.”

Glitches in production with the Trent 1000 was discovered in 2016, while issues with Trent 7000 came to light this year.

Rolls-Royce is currently in the middle of a massive revamp under CEO Warren East, who is attempting to turn things around at one of the few remaining British industrial titans.

The engine issues are spreading the company’s resources thin.

“We do have a lot on our plate at the moment. We understand the scale of the challenge, but we also know that the future doesn’t wait for us, we have to make it happen,” East was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Uptake is eager to demonstrate its capabilities to help Rolls-Royce to implement a data-science-first approach in efforts to optimize the Trent fleet’s performance.

Uptake’s senior VP of portfolio and industries, Nick Farrant said, “Industrial businesses have an incredible advantage given the massive amount of asset data they have at their fingertips.

“When you take a digitally driven company like Rolls-Royce that continuously raises the bar for customer excellence, and help them put their data to work, the outcomes are undisputable.”

The Chicago based start-up’s other clients include Berkshire Hathaway and Caterpillar. It was founded in 2014 by Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell.