Industrial Revolutions are rather momentous events. Most historians count three such periods. The mechanization of manual work using water and steam power triggered the first Industrial Revolution, while the harnessing of electricity and mass production (Henry Ford often cited as the pacesetter) drove the second Industrial Revolution in the early 20th century. The computer set the third in motion after World War II.
Today, according to some historians, we are entering the fourth revolution, labeled Industry 4.0, where “smart” factories use information and communications technologies to digitize their processes and reap enormous benefits with improved quality, lower costs and increased efficiencies.
Siemens is recognized as a leader in this latest revolution. And it’s this move to advanced manufacturing that drives the Dresser-Rand business facility located in the city of Hengelo, the Netherlands.
The city itself fosters this drive toward smart factories with its history, its people, its central location, its industrial roots, and its logistical infrastructure. Hengelo has a rich industrial history. Its growth (pop. 81,000), spurred by its metallurgical industry, traditionally required highly trained workers. As such, it has become an attractive location for innovative and technology-oriented companies, including Siemens.
Hengelo sits in the industrial heart of Europe. Strategically, the city lies along the motorways A1/E30, the main artery from Amsterdam to Moscow cutting through the nearby Ruhrgebiet, Germany’s most industrialized area, and has a station for the international Amsterdam – Hannover – Berlin service. Hengelo also features a relatively large harbor from which gas turbines and compressors are easily shipped to one the world’s biggest harbors, Rotterdam. Because of its geography, the city is often considered the center of Twente, a region that encompasses 20 municipalities.
Technical education is also underscored in Hengelo. First, there is the University of Twente, which lies between Hengelo and the neighboring city of Enschede, where studies focus on technical and applied sciences. The city also offers a wide range of occupational and technical training at the Regional Educational Centre while the Saxion Academy features a variety of courses for higher vocational training.
With nearly 700 employees, the Dresser-Rand business facility in Hengelo provides a full range of services, including the design and assembly of compressor trains and gas turbine packages. Within the Siemens organization, the plant is considered the worldwide “competence” center for maintenance, upgrades, and installation of single-shaft compressors. Activities include long-term maintenance programs; major overhauls and retrofits; production of spare parts; repairs, on site or in Hengelo; highspeed balancing; and compressor installation and commissioning services.
Because installation downtime is costly, the Dresser-Rand business pays a great deal of attention to testing compressor trains before shipment. As such, the Hengelo plant includes an open-loop facility for testing compressors on air and substitute gases, plus a high-pressure closed loop testing facility for full operational testing. The facility is one of four world-class Dresser-Rand business test facilities (along with Duisburg, Germany; Olean, NY, USA; and LeHavre, France) that can full load test the main LNG liquefaction train with both a driver and a compressor. Also present on site is a wide range of non-destructive test equipment wherein virtually all components for the internals of a compressor are subjected to such tests as needed.
The Hengelo facility is also particularly adept at welding and employs welding robots operated by the on-site staff with extensive knowledge of welding techniques. Plant personnel are also busy developing methods to employ the latest techniques in laser welding.
As mentioned, the Hengelo plant can perform high-speed balancing, making the Dresser-Rand business unique as it is the only company in the Netherlands with this capability. In fact, the newly installed, highspeed balancing facility is the first such installation of its kind in Europe since 1970 and includes compressor rotor and turbine rotor balancing at higher speeds (from 20,000 to 30,000 rpm). It has also enabled the Operations to make giant strides toward digitalization in high-speed balancing.
Another important advantage at the Hengelo plant, as with other Siemens’ facilities, is that it offers “configure-to-order solutions,” wherein the client can choose amongst standardized modules that can then be configured and assembled to client requirements.
Industry 4.0’s emphasis on modularization, digitalization and design automation is key to the success of the Dresser-Rand business’ Hengelo facility.