A TURBINE WHEEL IN 2 WEEKS? IT’S WHAT WE DO!
Han Kleisen - VP Operations
It’s all about speed. Not just when it comes to our high-speed rotating components, but also when it comes to our production facilities in the Netherlands and Romania. There, speed is not only about being lean: it’s also about being smart. How else could we produce a turbine wheel in our standard 2 weeks, instead of the industry’s usual 12 to 14 weeks?
Delivering quality means nothing if we don’t deliver on time. That’s why we make a great effort to do everything in-house. It enables us to work fast. In the rare case that something goes wrong, we can only blame ourselves. Vertical integration is essentially what makes us different from our competitors. We don’t need a high level of stock. It’s all about agility when it comes to changes in the business or on the client’s side. Fast production enables us to have a low and constant WIP, and to track and solve possible issues right away.
Of course, we’re not magicians. But to comprehend how we deliver a turbine wheel in 2 weeks does take some imagination. On the one hand, we’re always on top of our clients’ needs. Forecasting the type and size of orders coming up. We do this based on past experience, historical figures and so on. This means we can also give feedback on a client’s own forecast: we have a more realistic overview. On the other hand, we are well aware of every product and to which platform it belongs (unlike many Tier 3’s).
Instead of working on large series, we need to think and work in small series, in order to meet demand. This is why we keep our own products at minimum stock levels. Of course, we do keep stocks of products we procure ourselves. Just to maintain our independence and to prevent delays in our own processes. To keep the flow going. This brings us to what we also need in-house:
- machines that can switch swiftly, therefore with Single Minute Exchange of Dye (SMEOD)
- machines that can both mill and turn
- NDT processes, surface treatment processes, cleaning and shotpeening (Nadcap approved)
- balancing, overspeed testing
- machines with large tooling cabinets
- to be able to perform all kinds of measurements within the machines, using lasers and probes
- robotization, so we can work 24/7 (lights out!)
When we decide to invest in a machine, speed is the main requirement. For example: we invested in a phosphating line, even though it only operates for a total of one day a week. Usually when you outsource this short process for a product, it would take you 3 weeks to get it done. This is due to time spent sending it, having it delivered, being next in line and so on. Some might say it’s crazy to invest in our own line, looking at its total time usage per year. But for us, it’s a smart investment, helping us to achieve excellent performance.
The smart part of speed
As you can see, speed is on our side, thanks to vertical integration. We push limits when it comes to our products, but also when it comes to production. Without that, we would be ‘one of many’. We take part in VMI initiatives but always share our thoughts on what’s the smart thing to do. If you want to know more about how we forecast, plan production or if you’re interested in getting a closer look on how we speed up processes, do get in touch. We’d be happy to share what we know.