Voith Hydro (York, PA) is a major manufacturer of hydroelectric power generation equipment—particularly the intricate turbines used in such operations—supplying hydroelectric generating companies and municipalities throughout North America.
More than 12,000 units have been commissioned in the field with more than 65,000 MW of installed capacity, plus Voith Hydro has upgraded more than 600 existing power generation units. As a turnkey supplier to the industry, the company manages all phases of power plant projects, from analysis and planning, design and implementation, to commissioning and operation. Voith Hydro is ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified.
At the York facility, very large multi-axis machining centers produce carbon and stainless steel parts, most often in a one-off mode and at sizes frequently exceeding 35′ (10.67 m) in diameter. Adam Ward, manager of maintenance and facilities at Voith Hydro, said the machining done typically holds tolerances of ±0.002″ (0.0508 mm), nonetheless. “We do turning, line boring and milling on extremely large and heavy workpieces that often challenge us to design the optimum machining cycle. Our long cycles can frequently result in heat distortion on material surfaces, so we take great care in looking for problems before they occur.”
Voith Hydro maintains an impressive array of machine tools and multi-axis machining centers at its York facility. Despite operating machines from a variety of builders, most of Voith Hydro’s machines have one common component—the Siemens SINUMERIK 840D CNC.
“Our operators are quite comfortable with the CNC from Siemens and they use it for all motion control, plus the operator interface affords us great troubleshooting capability and something else we value greatly—the commonality of the HMI on the control,” said Ward. “That fact allows us to do a great deal of cross-training and that’s very important to us. We need to be highly flexible, given the one-off nature of our work here.
“Most of the operators at Voith Hydro are capable of running multiple machines, while the maintenance personnel on his team can more easily service the machining equipment in the facility,” Ward continued. He credits his machine builders and the Siemens team, led by Howard Weinstein and Robert Stiefel, for this ongoing flexibility.
Voith typically takes a customer design, runs it through its CAM system, and simulates the cycle offline in order to preserve valuable machine uptime. Since work at the York plant involves highly complex geometries on turbine sections, the simulation must be equally complex, account for all machine motions, and provide collision avoidance. Once the program is finally determined for a part, it is fed over the Voith Hydro network to the appropriate machine tool or machining center for scheduling and production startup.
During production, a real-time remote condition monitoring system is available through the CNC for troubleshooting by both the Voith Hydro maintenance personnel and, when required, technicians from machine builders working offsite.
Ward cites one example where an Ingersoll milling machine was completely retrofitted both mechanically and electrically by a Siemens Solution Partner with a new CNC, motors, drives, encoders, other hardware and software. “Working with the builder and Siemens support personnel, we were able to resolve issues and implement changes to the programming, right on the CNC of the machine … all done remotely in a very short time period.”
Voith Hydro’s York facility boasts the capability of machining workpieces over 42′ (12.80 m) in diameter and weighing more than 350 tons (317.5 t). Surface finishes are typically 250 and 125 Ra, though occasionally 64 or 32 Ra is required. The finishes are achieved through both machining and secondary finishing operations, according to Voith Hydro.
Ward further noted that, on most new machines required at Voith Hydro, “The cross-training capability of the CNC, the standardization of the HMI on various types of machines, the support provided and the previous successes our operators and maintenance personnel have realized all combine to make specifying Siemens as our control of choice an easy decision.”
Howard Weinstein, business development manager for the power industry manufacturing sector at Siemens, commented on the relationship with Voith: “We’re a proud partner of Voith Hydro in York. Their facility is a great showcase for our flagship CNC, the SINUMERIK 840D, as used on an array of multi-axis machining centers to produce large, complex geometry parts for the hydroelectric power industry.”
According to the hydropower manufacturer’s website, through its flagship York facility, Voith Hydro’s hydropower manufacturing heritage spans over 135 years. The plant is one of the world’s largest dedicated hydropower turbine equipment manufacturing facilities, plus the only facility of its kind in the US to feature a hydraulic laboratory, according to the company. “Voith Hydro’s products and services are helping to provide clean, reliable and affordable energy in homes and businesses across the US,” said Bob Gallo, Voith Hydro’s president.
Voith Hydro supplies hydropower equipment and services, from project planning, project execution, and manufacturing to electrical and mechanical engineering, outage management, modernization and aftermarket business and services.
Siemens Corp. is a US subsidiary of Siemens AG, which focuses on electrification, automation and digitalization. Siemens AG is a supplier of systems for power generation and transmission as well as medical diagnosis.