Issue Issue 2 2008
Engineering excellence from GEA
The GEA Group, headquartered in Bochum, Germany, is a globally successful technology group with operating companies in around 50 countries.
The business focuses on specialty mechanical engineering – especially process engineering and equipment. GEA is one of the world’s market and technology leaders in 90 per cent of its businesses.
Within each of these areas the company offers a number of services, such as refrigeration, farm systems, gas cleaning and thermal engineering. In numerous industries, solutions and processes made by GEA are enhancing the cost effectiveness and environmental compatibility of production processes and the quality of its customers’ products.
As a leading process technology enterprise, GEA offers efficient and reliable process management within the food, beverages, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors, and also in industries, such as power, oil and gas, construction, engine building and shipbuilding. The most important area for the company at the moment is energy, with economic growth in developing countries having increased demands for electricity. In addition, a large proportion of the coal-fired power stations in Europe and the US must, in the coming years, be replaced by new technology.
With this in mind, GEA in South Africa has recently received a turnkey order for the complete design, manufacture, supply and erection of the air-cooled condensers for the new Medupi fossilfuelled power station at Lephalale in South Africa from Alstom Power Systems. With 25 per cent of the global installed base, Alstom is a world leader in power generation. A direct dry air-cooled condenser system was chosen due to water being a scarce commodity in the country. The end customer for the new project is Eskom, South Africa’s leading power producer.
GEA has extensive experience in the field of aircooled power plants in South Africa having previously supplied products to both the Matimba and Majuba power stations. The major portion of the equipment and services for the Medupi project – to be executed between 2008 and 2013 – will be sourced in South Africa and will result in a longterm project for GEA’s manufacturing operation based in Johannesburg.
The Medupi power station contract is strategic to South Africa’s policy to increase the installed power capacity in the country. In China, GEA has received an order to plan and supply the Heller Indirect dry cooling system for the Bao-Ji power station. This is the second order for a Heller cooling system in China within the last two years.
Newly industrialised countries, such as China, South Africa, India and Brazil, present great opportunities for the future growth of GEA, especially for its thermal engineering division. Peter Hamel, head of corporate communications for GEA explains: “Our three most important business drivers include the changing demands of customers in developed countries, such as the US and the UK, the growth of the world’s population – especially in large countries like China, India, Brazil and Russia – and lastly, rising household incomes in developing countries.”
To help us take advantage of the emerging opportunities in these areas, GEA has plans to acquire some new facilities. Peter continues: “We are now looking to increase our presence in China and India by developing new production sites. We have been present in China for approximately 20 years but we believe there are still plenty more opportunities for us to grow in this area. We also have some small facilities in India and we are now planning to venture further into this area. This is a very interesting country for us as its economy is growing rapidly.”
In addition to energy projects, GEA has gained many other challenging contracts. Peter explains: “We have been working on a number of high profile projects including the cooling towers for Burj Dubai, which, once completed, will be the tallest building in the world at around 705 metres high. In addition, we have received some contracts in connection with the Olympic Games in Beijing – overall, we supply some very interesting landmarks in many different countries.”
Looking closely at the Burj Dubai project, GEA Polacel, a GEA Group company, has supplied 12 cooling towers, each with a ground space of 100 metres square for the district cooling plant to cool the vast quantities of water processed by the system. The cooling towers were chosen for their exceptional efficiency and economical use of water: a precious commodity in Dubai’s arid climate. The units recycle over 95 per cent of the water passing through them and their modular design means that the installation can be accommodated in a relatively small area.
GEA’s involvement in such high profile projects reflects the high standard of its equipment and the cutting edge technology being used to develop its solutions. As a result of the quality of the new orders the group received throughout 2006 and 2007, the business’ expectations for 2008 and 2009 are extremely positive. Furthermore, the company is now planning to invest in markets and technologies that are generating sustainable growth worldwide and yet are fairly non-cyclical. GEA is particularly interested in refrigeration equipment for buildings and factories, as well as the beer and dairy sectors of the food industry.
Peter concludes: “I think we have a very bright future ahead – we believe that our business is necessary for large countries to develop their economy and their population. Consequently, there will be plenty more opportunities for us to take advantage of over the next few years. In 90 per cent of the fields we operate within we are the number one player, and overall we are world leaders in the process engineering and equipment industry. The main challenge for us in the future will be to maintain this market position, and hopefully improve on it.”
Products: Process engineering and equipment
Sites: In 50 countries worldwide