Nordex industrialises production

Continuous quality improvement ensured / production time and rotating stock reduced

Rostock, 23 June 2011. Nordex SE has modernised its European production centre in Rostock in line with industrial principles. The aim was to significantly improve the efficiency and production quality of the plant. “We have introduced professional series production in order to make us more competitive,” explains COO Dr. Marc Sielemann. “The sector is developing at a dynamic pace and customers expect more flexible deliveries from the manufacturer.”

With this in mind, the company has converted the nacelle and switch cabinet factory to continuous flow production. The introduction of stable and standardised processes forms the basis of reliable deliveries to customers and guarantees high-quality products.

The result of this modernisation is impressive: standardised work processes and shorter throughput times have made it possible to triple capacity in the two-shift operation from 330 to around 1,000 turbines a year. This equates to output of 2,500 MW. The manufacturer has reduced the production time and rotating stock by some 30 percent.

Overall, Nordex has set up three lines for the main components – the nacelle, hub and drive train and three further lines for pre-assembly. The company decided in favour of a rail system with friction wheel drive. For this the technology had to be adapted to the existing hall layout. The most suitable solution proved to be a skid system with an angular transfer unit designed to take heavy weights. For construction of the switch cabinets the skids are moved by a drag chain conveyor. In this way Nordex has converted the entire nacelle assembly to continuous flow.

However, this new technology is only one part of the changeover. The organisational changes made are of key importance. For example, dock assembly made it difficult to determine the actual production status and the picture presented by the production hall was that of rows of shelves full of material. Now the assembly lines are designed in accordance with the principle of synchronisation and the required material is available directly at the assembly station – Nordex has minimised its stock-keeping and moved it out of the hall.

On top of this, large screens now inform all staff about progress in the respective cycle and along the entire production line. Any disruptions in the assembly process are immediately evident and can be remedied in good time. This minimises downtimes and the error rate.

“For the efficiency programme in our production division we were able to adopt many principles from other industries,” said Dr. Sielemann. “We attached particular importance to transparency and organised trouble-shooting as they make it possible for us to continuously optimise production.”