Constantly leading the way for wind power maintenance, RENEW Energy is currently building a new Remanufacturing Center in Enid, Oklahoma.
Strategically located, the facility will be in close proximity to numerous industrial-scale wind farms in the heart of the North American wind corridor. This location will reduce transportation, as well as storage costs. It will also minimize delivery time when customers experience an unscheduled component failure.
“Essentially, the purpose of this facility in Enid is to rebuild two different components [of wind turbines],” said Mike Feltman, the Director of Engineering and R&D for RENEW Energy. “One component will be the main shafts of the wind turbine, and the other component is the gearbox. And a lot of people don’t understand how big these things are. Gear boxes are 36,000 pounds and the main shafts are 26,000 to 30,000 pounds.”
Speaking of size, this new facility will feature 50,000 sq. ft of temperature and humidity-controlled workspace. It will consist of a 7MW gearbox load test bench, and a 100T bridge crane capacity.
“The Enid facility is going to do complete teardowns of gear boxes” Feltman said. “They’ll do a full analysis report that will then go to the site’s owner – the parent company or the power company or whomever – and it will explain the damages that were found and what needs to be replaced. Then, along with that, we’ll get a quote to refurbish, repair, and rebuild that gearbox back to OEM specifications, and even make some improvements as well.”
The goal is to perform these tasks in a way that is efficient, safe and cost effective for turbine owners.
“TP&L already had the complex in Enid,” said Gary Cavigielli, the Vice President of Remanufacturing and R&D for RENEW Energy. “We are installing a seven-megawatt test stand, which would be the largest in the United States to continue being a leader within the industry with all of the larger platforms that are going to become available to us. It’s all about being able to take care of our customers.”
Feltman stated that the industry is lending itself to using larger and larger wind turbines. Because of this, the Enid facility is being created to handle the construction of current turbines, but it’s also preparing to build larger turbines in the future.
“Currently, in our Sioux Falls facility, we have a three-megawatt test stand,” Feltman said. “The Enid facility’s test stand is going to be a seven-megawatt stand. RENEW’s Enid facility is targeted towards the future machines. Obviously, we’ll start with machines that we’re already repairing in that facility, but it’s really kind of tailored and targeted more for the future – for five or seven or eight years from now. That’s kind of the core concept of what the facility is supposed to be sized for.”
Cavigielli said that construction has already started on the new facility.
“They have the dirt work done today,” he said. “They should be starting to pour the foundations either next week or the week after that which will keep everything on track to have the new facility put up by the time the testing equipment shows up in the first part of August.”
Cavigelli said that the plan is to hopefully be at least semi-operational by the fourth quarter of 2023.
According to Feltman, a big reason why they decided to build this facility in Enid, Oklahoma is because it is centrally located. It’s in the middle of the ‘Wind Corridor,’ which means that it can work with wind farm owners from Texas, California, Wyoming, North Dakota, and more.
One of the major factors of this new Enid facility is the number of jobs that it will create. Cavigielli stated that he will be going to Enid to begin interviewing potential new hires. They’ve already hired some technicians, who are now training at the facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“Once everything is in place and once we get the facility operational, we’ll be hiring a lot more people,” he stated. “I don’t know exact timelines, but we’re probably looking at having at least 40 new hires coming on – maybe even up to 90 if we get to the point where we get a second shift up and running down there.”
RENEW is partnering with the Autry Technical Center – a tech school in Enid, to begin developing a training program for potential employees.
“They already have an electromechanical course, and we’re hoping to expand on that and make it somewhat specific to the wind industry; with gear boxes and main shaft work,” Feltman stated. “We’ll use that as a stepping stone for employees to learn the basics and then come into the company on a full-time basis.”
This new facility will serve a variety of purposes – all in an effort to make the wind industry even bigger, better, and brighter in the future.
“There is a lot of opportunity in this industry for people that are willing to learn and get engaged in what’s going on,” Feltman said. “There’s a lot of opportunity from a variety of levels.”
The most important level, of course, is keeping their existing – and new- customers happy.
“The biggest part of this whole thing is simply to be able to take care of our customers’ needs,” Cavigielli said. “Everything else kind of revolves around that.”