Issue Jul Aug 15
Cotinnuous manufacturing requires a constant source of electrical power. Failures in electrical delivery can cause substantial delays and lost income. So companies that supply products for reliable electrical generation to manufacturers rely on the full range of power generation products – controls and switchgear, gen-set packages and enclosures, and cogeneration units – that Enercon provides.
“Every manufacturing plant that requires secure power would be interested in what we offer,” stresses Tim Caldwell, Enercon’s marketing manager. “We can provide everything but the engine and generator set that actually produces the electrical power.”
Enercon partners with engine suppliers to provide all of the components necessary for an onsite power solution. “We package gensets into custom enclosures and configurations, and those typically are branded by the engine manufacturer,” CEO Larry Tangel says. “The engine manufacturers don’t have the expertise and skill to do the customization of the power sytem both electrically and mechanically. The electrical switchgear and control systems that allow the generator to parallel with each other, communicate and share loads are typically branded Enercon.”
Enercon has a complementary marketing relationship with the engine supplier’s dealers/distributors that saves it from having to mount a massive effort to reach all the end-users who might be interested in its products. Besides manufacturers, this could be hospitals, hotels, wastewater treatment plants, prisons or any facility needing secure, 24/7 power. “Instead of going directly to the end-users, we support and provide specific expertise for the engine manufacturer’s distribution networks that sell to the end-users in specific areas of the country,” Tangel explains.
“In that role of support, our ambition is to be expert behind the scences,” Tangel continues. “We’ll use our technical knowledge and our applications experience to provide the customized power solutions that you need for your particular situation. We’d love everybody to know the Enercon name; that’s just not necessarily our ambition.”
Design and Service
Electrical generation systems that use Enercon’s products can operate in parallel with utility systems and function as back-up systems. “We consider ourselves a premium brand,” Tangel says. “As a premium brand, we seek to provide superior support throughout the project. The two fulcrums of competition that I have observed in our industry are support and price. Support begins upfront, with who can provide the best answer quickly and efficiently. This requires technical expertiese and experience in specific applications.
“Then there is price – unfortunately, people seek the lowest upfront price,” Tangel continues. “We focus on the overall costs of a project and seeking to be the overall low-cost provider with expert solutions on the front side, professional project management throughout the life of the project and superior support on the commissioning side. For complex, critical systems, choosing the ‘cheap’ options upfront could end up being a very high cost in the end – up to and including the loss of life.”
Having applications engineering and after-market sales support are a competitive advantage for Enercon. “Our systems aren’t like Bic lighters – you don’t just buy them and flick a switch and they work,” Tangel cautions. “There’s pretty much a solid week of commissioning on-site of every product we get involved in, and customers don’t always hire our service for that. When they don’t, they’re usually sorry, but they’re trying to get away with a lower price figuring their own people can do it, and then they have challenges. If you don’t have experience specifically in this domain of engineering, you will be lost no matter how smart your people are.”
Another competitive advantage of Enercon is having manufacturing and engineering facilities around the country and world. Enercon has more than 320,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the United States: in Illinois, Georgia and Arizona, with a switchgear manufacturing facility in Singapore. “We can provide a product built close to our customer’s facility to keep costs low,” Tangel notes.
“We also have full load-testing capability at each of our facilities, with the ability to test reactive and resistive loads,” Tangel continues. “Each of our facilities has the capacity to produce an integrated ‘string’ test of an onsite power facility including the fuel, cooling, generator and paralleling switchgear. This system integration capability is a competitive advantage.”
Enercon can simulate system operation. “We write a live site program that simulates as much as possible how that paralleling switchgear is going to integrate into the customer’s facility,” Tangel says.
The company also has been focused on lean manufacturing techniques with a commitment to the 5S process, daily meetings, process improvement dialogs and concentrating on people, quality, velocity and cost. “We have a visual metrics cascade to align organizational targets with front-line team members, a continuous improvement process to actively listen for opportunities and a more robust safety program to ensure we protect our team members,” Tangel says.
Research and Development
One of the R&D efforts at Enercon is to create products that can be manufactured more quickly than its custom products, which can take eight to 28 weeks. Standardizing some of the company’s products could reduce that time to two to three weeks. “We have an idea on a few places where we know many of our clients need the same type of package,” Tangel says.
Enercon has installed new tooling, overhead cranes, a paint system and testing equipment. New tooling took 40 percent of the man-hours out of manufacturing one product. “About five years ago, we put in place an ERP system that is helping us streamline a variety of practices and processes in the purchasing, design, manufacturing and sales operations,” Tangel says.
Tangel mentions several recent Enercon projects of which he is especially proud. “After the Fukushima disaster in Japan, we were contracted to supply a large quantity of generator packages in a very aggressive timeframe,” Tangel says. “By leveraging all three of our manufacturing locations and our strategic supply partners, we were able to meet the targeted delivery timeline while still maintaining safety and quality targets. In doing so, we were able to produce 120 MW of packaged diesel generator sets in 17 weeks from date of order.”
Another project involves the defense of the United States. “Enercon is a partner that designed and assembles the prime power unit for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system for the Missile Defense Agency,” Tangel says. “THAAD is part of our nation’s missile defense system. The prime power unit is one of the most sophisticated tactical power systems capable of providing onsite power necessary to make the system operate.”
Tangel attributes the company’s success to several factors. “We care for our clients as humans first, working to understand their concerns, situations and intentions,” he emphasizes. “In addition, as a premium brand we own our mistakes and provide ongoing service for the life of the product. One of our corporate ethics is ‘Everyone Matters,’ and to actualize that ethic, we are open to everyone’s thinking, inclusive in our philosophical orientation and seek to make our time together at work fun.”