Not many people can boast of playing a part in building aircraft engines from the ground up, but Mr Kenneth Koh Fang Yong can expect to do this at Rolls-Royce’s new $700 million manufacturing facility at Seletar Aerospace Park.
Mr Koh, 25, is a technical author and manufacturing engineer in Rolls-Royce’s wide chord fan blade (WCFB) manufacturing facility.
The WCFB is a unique, patented technology that has been central to the success of Rolls-Royce’s Trent engine family. The blade’s innovative hollow design boasts 30 per cent in weight savings and can move a tonne of air per second, producing 85 per cent of the engine’s thrust.
Mr Koh says: “I’ve always liked engineering and I take pride in working for a world-leading power systems company like Rolls-Royce. I particularly enjoy manufacturing because you get to see how a part moves through the facility to become a finished aerospace component.
“It is a rare opportunity to be part of the core team from the beginning and to see the building of a landmark new manufacturing facility. I feel privileged to watch and experience firsthand how a new facility progresses from start-up and testing to full-scale production.”
His job is a combination of hands-on work and documentation. Mr Koh spends a lot of time interacting with colleagues from various internal departments both locally and in the United Kingdom on matters pertaining to the manufacturing processes of the WCFB.
He says: “Everyone is highly motivated and works hard to ensure work of the highest quality is consistently delivered. I often see colleagues helping one another although they are not obligated to do so, showing a great camaraderie and team culture.”
Currently, the biggest challenge he faces is finalising for approval the technical documents to be used in the manufacturing processes at the WCFB manufacturing facility.
Technical documentation is very important as it serves as stringent controls on the quality and processes used in the manufacturing of the fan blades.
“This is not an easy task as it involves endorsement from multiple departments within Rolls-Royce to ensure these processes are accurate and of the highest quality to be implemented,” says Mr Koh, who has a first class honours degree in aerospace engineering from Nanyang Technological University.
“The work is challenging but rewarding — we are all learning a great deal. Overcoming the challenges is like winning a football match against a tough team,” he adds.
The sense of achievement from solving complex engineering problems aside, Mr Koh is also motivated by the company’s dedication to excellence in products and services.
The focus on high quality is built on a solid foundation of intensive training and skills development programme. As a fresh graduate, he has had various training and learning opportunities, including training stints in Rolls-Royce’s manufacturing facilities in Derby and Barnoldswick in England.
“The training and accreditation programmes provided are diverse, intensive and internationally recognised, ensuring that every employee is well-equipped for a long and meaningful career. The UK engineers are highly experienced,” he says.
There are also opportunities to acquire skills from information technology, management, leadership and technical fields across Rolls-Royce’s businesses in civil and defence aerospace, marine and energy sectors.
Mr Koh wanted to carve a niche in the aerospace sector as he felt engineers can have promising career prospects in this field.
The announcement of the Seletar Aerospace Park and Rolls-Royce’s subsequent decision to set up a manufacturing and assembly facility here further fuelled his enthusiasm to join the aerospace manufacturing industry.
The company has hired people with relevant skills from related industries, such as manufacturing, semi-conductor and facilities maintenance, says Ms Ang Cham Lark, Rolls-Royce’s human resources manager in Singapore.
For the new manufacturing facility, it is looking at adding 500 highly skilled jobs to the economy and is expected to contribute about $1.7 billion, or 0.5 per cent, to Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2015.
The Rolls-Royce Seletar campus is a landmark expansion for the group in Asia and Mr Koh is proud to be part of the team that contributes to the new facility’s success.
“I enjoy the work, the people, and the satisfaction gained from contributing to the success of this new facility keeps me motivated,” he says.