energy

What is the secret to outstanding power plant components?

They have withstood wind and weather for over 60 years

Harbin Electric Machinery Company Limited (formerly known as Harbin Electric Machinery Works) was founded in June 1951. The company’s main business areas with social and national responsibility include design and manu- facturing, technical services, installation, commissioning, operation and maintenance as well as the modernization and conversion of large-scale power generation plants. These include applications in hydropower, coal, nuclear power and gas energy and through this, the company has been able to overcome wind and weather for over 60 years.

    Qingfei Gao, Deputy General Manager of Harbin Electric Machinery Works, part of Harbin Electric Machinery Company Limited, describes the general situation of the company as, “Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Harbin Electric Machinery Company Limited has implemented many well-known power plant projects both domestically and abroad, including the Three Gorges Dam. As a company it plays an important role in the production of large and medium-sized power plant components in our country.”

    In 2015, Harbin Electric Machinery Company Limited won an invitation to a tender for the construction of eight 1,000-MW hydroelectric power plants on the right bank of the Baihetan Dam, including their auxiliary facilities. The power plants have the largest individual plant capacity in the world. The Baihetan hydroelectric power plant currently under construction is an important national energy project, as it plays a significant role in the implementation of strategic energy provision from the west to the east. Once completed, it will be the secondlargest hydroelectric power plant in the world – after the Three Gorges hydroelectric power plant.

    Its construction is also of great strategic importance for the promotion and development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Optimizing China’s energy infrastructure, promoting renewable energy and reducing emissions are important national goals.

    The construction of the dam with its associated hydroelectric power plants highlights China’s ability to implement major projects in the energy sector. Moreover, it will also improve flood protection in the river basins. The project will support the economic development of the reservoir region.

    Strict requirements for the vertical turning machine Dörries VC 6500/600 MC

    Harbin Electric Machinery Company Limited sees a continuous internal improvement process as an important part of the Baihetan project. Projects that are so closely connected to people’s livelihoods not only need to be accurately planned out, but also implemented with efficiency. Harbin Electric Machinery Company Limited conducted an extensive market study and comparison of suppliers to select the right production equipment for this project. These included aspects such as brand reputation, cost efficiency, service ability and application related technical parameters. The selection process was finally won by the Dörries VC 6500/600 MC, a complex CNC turning and milling center produced by Starrag.

    “Starrag machines are already used by other subsidiaries of the Harbin Electric Group, where they fully satisfy expectations on account of their excellent quality.”

    Yi An, a senior application engineer at Harbin Electric Machinery Company Limited, said “Starrag machines are already used by other subsidiaries of the Harbin Electric Group, where they fully satisfy expectations on account of their excellent quality.“

    As the Harbin Electric Group is the largest and most efficient company in the industry for key projects such as hydro-electric power plants, the requirements needed for the production facilities are very high. Workpiece weights of up to 200 tons need to be taken into account. Very few vertical turning machines with a machining diameter of 248 in to 256 in (6,300 to 6,500 mm) can meet these requirements. However, this is not a problem for Starrag’s vertical lathes. In addition, they have a positioning accuracy of 3 microns, which in practice amounts to just 2.5 microns. This is outstanding compared to the 5-micron positioning accuracy of other commonly used machine tools. Furthermore, the machine is equipped with an extensive set of attachment units, including an angle milling head, a universal milling head, an electric grinding head and an angle milling head for machining internal areas. This greatly expands the potential applications of the machine, which is particularly suitable for individual and small-batch production.

    Li Qiu, the application engineer for the Dörries VC 6500/600 MC, elaborates further “This machine is not only a turning and milling machine in the simplest sense, but it also enables the milling of special contours such as round holes, threads and square grooves on the end face. This is comparable to the capabilities of a drill. Previously, we needed several different machines for the different machining steps. Today, however, we can do everything in a single clamping operation with this machine tool alone, thus significantly improving the machining efficiency.” He added “When machining very large workpieces, we had to place the parts on a vertical drill with the aid of a crane, for example, in order to be able to carry out the second machining step. It took two days to just clamp and align the workpiece. With the Dörries VC 6500/600 MC, which combines turning, drilling and milling functionality in a single machine we can carry out the entire machining process on the unit in the same clamping operation. He said that this saves more than 20% of throughput time, reduces personnel costs and significantly improves the machining accuracy.

    “More than 20% of throughput time is saved. This not only reduces personnel costs, but also significantly improves the machining accuracy.”

    In addition, the surface finish is very good for horizontal machining. „In the past, after turning flat surfaces, we had to 
    put these through an additional grinding process in order to achieve the desired surface qualities. With the new Dörries, we already meet the requirements for a level surface after the turning stage, meaning that the grinding process can be omitted entirely.”

    Many machine tools on the market cause production errors and safety incidents in the event of sudden power failures or other emergencies. However, companies like Harbin Electric Machinery Company Limited place great importance on ensuring their machine tools have power failure protection to guarantee that, in the event of a power failure, the operator can safely terminate the production process to avoid production errors and accidents. According to senior application engineer Yi An, the Dörries VC 6500/600 MC can still operate for more than 15 minutes thanks to its shut-off protection in the event of a sudden power failure to ensure that the machine tool comes to a safe and stable stop, to prevent expensive and important parts from being scrapped and of course to guarantee the safety of production.

    Service and efficiency are the highest priority

    The progress of any important energy project is naturally closely linked to the living circumstances of the people of the respective region. Adherence to the schedule of the project is therefore a critical factor. According to Qingfei Gao, Deputy General Manager of Harbin Electric Machinery Works “Following the purchase of the complex CNC turning and milling center, the engineers of the Starrag Group responded quickly and accurately to the needs of the customer throughout the entire project phase, working conscientiously and responsibly and displaying extreme diligence in operator training.“ The operation handover was completed one month before the projected date. The new Dörries turning and milling center from Starrag enables Harbin Electric Machinery Company Limited to produce even more efficient and accurate components. This is mainly due to the high productivity of the machine, as well as the reliability and technological configuration level of this German-Swiss joint production. “The machine will be an important part of the development of our company and will help to open up new markets,” he explains.

    With its claim of “Engineering precisely what you value” and its long-standing close cooperation with its customers, Starrag is opening up new markets for its clients.

    Sabine Kerstan
    Sabine Kerstan
    Starrag Content Manager

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