"Even though we’re using the same amount of space, we’re now able to increase production and get a better output from the factory with fewer people."
You are met with an awesome sight, and the steel almost blinds you when you enter Welcon’s large factory floor south of Brande in central Jutland. Everywhere you look, enormous steel constructions are welded together, steel plates are transformed into cans, and cans are turned into tower sections. Finally, platforms, elevators and cable holders are installed in the surface-treated tower sections.
The wind turbine tower specialist has streamlined production, and the time used to manufacture a tower section has been reduced markedly over the past five years. Concurrently, the largest tower diameter has grown from 3.5 to 6.5 meters.
The gigantic steel constructions mean that Welcon uses vast amounts of steel. Every week the company’s employees weld 2,500 tons of steel that is turned into steel sections for offshore wind turbines. There is room for even larger constructions in the 60,000 square meter factory, whose surface area has tripled in five years. Productivity at the factory has taken a quantum leap, as well.
6,000 square meters of factory floor were inaugurated in October 2018, and the factory’s welding capacity was increased by 35 %. Back in 2013 development of the welding capacity was the first step towards boosting the production efficiency.
The critical aspect of the efficiency improvement is the process where cans are welded together and transformed into tower sections. There used to be only one welding head; now there are four, and this has helped remove a chronic bottleneck.
“Each of the large circular seam weldings may take from two to 24 hours to perform when it comes to the thickest steel sections. Previously, a large section that had to be welded in 10 or 12 places could take an entire week,” says Jens Risvig Pedersen, CEO and co-owner of Welcon.
Instead of one member of staff in a welding column & boom there are now two men in an operator room who monitor welding with four welding heads. This welding method is unique in the world.
“Even though we’re using the same amount of space, we’re now able to increase production and achieve better output from the factory with fewer people,” explains Jens Risvig Pedersen.
The towers grew in size and today the factory has 14 submerged arc welding circ seams on one tower section. A wind turbine tower consists of several sections. “The bottleneck spoiled the flow and other functions were kept on hold for too long,” says the CEO.
First a gantry welder (multi-seam welding station) was constructed with two heads, and when that worked, one more welding head was added. The factory now has four welding heads that can carry out welding work on the same tower section at the same time. Each step of the development took many months.
“Welding doesn’t constitute a bottleneck anymore. Now half of the welding machines may be idle when we manufacture sections of thin steel plates,” says Jens Risvig Pedersen.
“There’s always pressure somewhere in the production – that is, if your order book is full. But the pressure moves. Right now there’s pressure in surface treatment in that we now produce 18 offshore sections a week.”
Welcon A/S is a Danish company that primarily produces turnkey steel constructions.
They focus on the most productive welding methods. The newest welding methods are tested and documented before taken into use. The machinery makes Welcon able to produce a wide range of steel constructions, where the main emphasis is on towers to wind turbines.
Welcon has over 60,000 m2 of factory floorspace in operation.
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