Wind in the sails for Hermes Award winner
Wind, a new event for Hannover Messe, showcased some extraordinary displays.
The central theme of this year's Hannover Messe trade fair is energy-securing future energy supplies by using it more efficiently and by developing and deploying renewable energy technologies.
Hannover Messe is an umbrella event for 13 individual trade shows. One of these is Energy, which includes technologies ranging from smart meters for homes to superconducting cables for transmission lines. This year also marks the first year for a new trade fair, Wind. The Wind expo presented extraordinary displays, including a massive turbine from Enercon that allowed visitors to peer inside from an elevated platform.
Wind power accounts for approximately 7% of Germany's energy production, is responsible for more than 70,000 jobs, and is a strong export market. According to VDMA Power Systems Assn. (the German wind energy association), the wind sector has recorded growth rates of over 30% for the last three years in a row, and 70% of Germany's wind power manufactured products are exported. It's no wonder then that German engineers are refining wind turbines with the skill in engineering and manufacturing that the country is known for.
Underscoring Germany's commitment to wind turbine R&D, the winner of this year's coveted Hermes award was Voith Turbo GmBH , for their new WinDrive turbine technology. The juried Hermes award is conferred by Hannover Messe annually during the opening ceremony. The award includes a purse of 100,000 euros, said to be one of the largest purses in industrial competitions.
Voith Turbo manufactures variable-speed hydrodynamic drives for controlling pumps, compressors, and other turbo machinery in power generation. When presenting the award, the German Minister of Education and Research said that in addition to representing superior technological innovation, the WinDrive also represents the importance of developing technologies to combat climate change.
I stopped by the Voith Turbo exhibit and looked at a model of the WinDrive. It was amazingly simple. According to Uwe Reimesch, general manager of sales, the WinDrive uses a combination of a torque converter on the output end and a planetary gear designed as a superimposed gear on the input end.
Together, this assembly converts variable input speeds into constant output speeds for synchronous generators. This eliminates the need for a frequency inverter while providing network-quality power output. As a result, driveline weight is reduced by 20%, output and reliability are increased, and maintenance is decreased.
I asked, what he thought of the Hermes Award. "It's great," he said. "It's just what a company needs to put wind in its sails when starting up a new product."
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey