Editor’s Note: Tom began his career in the US Navy where he was a submariner for 11 years. After serving the Navy, he spent four years at the Georgia Institute of Technology conducting research in underwater structural acoustics and bioacoustics. Tom held a variety of leadership engineering, marketing and product management roles focused on steam turbines and renewable energy at GE Power & Water, prior to joining Dresser-Rand in 2009. He especially enjoys watching his 13-year-old son’s competitive swim meets and takes pleasure in hiking, sightseeing and traveling. Tom, his wife and their son like to camp in the Adirondacks – a not-too-distant drive from their home in Worcester.
A few years ago, the demand for low-carbon power generation solutions was expected to drive rapid growth and associated demand worldwide in this area. In addition to this, the increasing costs associated with operating an aging energy infrastructure created demand for more efficient products to replace older, outdated units that use older technologies. As a result, we realized that we needed to offer our clients cost-effective, highefficiency power generation solutions. In 2010, Dresser-Rand Environmental Solutions team was created, and distributed power generation was identified as a natural, adjacent market to our core oil and gas business.
When I came to Dresser-Rand five years ago, my role was to develop a strategy for this transformation within the steam turbine business. My team primarily focuses on developing innovative technologies and bringing these to market. I get to see virtually all the company does from a technology perspective and use this opportunity to deploy products for other applications.
As a prime example, my team leveraged the technologies developed by the turbomachinery team to help improve our steam turbine and power generation products. Likewise, I expect to see technologies developed on the steam turbine and waste heat side of things be applied to our turbomachinery.
It is within this context that Dresser-Rand geared up to revitalize its steam turbine product line. The objectives were simple: reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of our products. While the objectives were simple, the implementation was more complex. Over the years, Dresser-Rand’s steam turbine business had grown through acquisitions. We needed to transform our steam turbine business to meet market demand. After evaluating the product line across the entire business, my team identified three key elements to achieve this transformation.
First, we had to standardize our steam turbine product line across the company. With the acquisition of assets of Tuthill Energy Systems in 2005, Dresser-Rand acquired the Coppus, Murray and Nadrowski brand steam turbines. The result was too many different steam turbine product models with overlapping capabilities. This complicated transactional engineering, presented an inefficient product selection and slowed order execution.
The team set out to develop and deploy a standard multi-stage steam turbine (MST) with standard components and a global sourcing strategy that used common tools and processes. The first standard product line was based upon a 1-10 MW standard MST platform and eliminated four legacy product lines.
The results so far have been positive. The first units in this revitalized line were manufactured at our Burlington, Iowa manufacturing facility and delivered this year to a waste treatment facility for a municipal solid waste incineration plant in Bermuda. Furthermore, standardization of the product line and associated processes has enabled rapid deployment to other manufacturing operations.
Second, we realized we had to deploy standard tools and processes across the business. Deploying standard MST products enabled common manufacturing and sourcing strategies but this addressed only part of the problem. Each of our steam turbine manufacturing locations used unique tools and processes that were hindering our ability to operate as a global enterprise. We chose a Multi-select program, similar to our Corporate Product Configurator (CPC), as the common product selection tool to use across the entire steam turbine business. This enabled our product development engineers located anywhere in the world to select the best steam turbine product fit. Today, all quotes for standard products are generated using the Multiselect tool. In addition to increasing our use of standard components, the cross business team developed a global sourcing strategy that leveraged common tools and processes.
Third, we developed enabling technologies to improve the efficiency of our product line platforms. Standard product line platforms, tools and processes improved the productivity of our steam turbine business but did nothing to directly address the efficiency of steam turbine product. A concerted effort is underway to improve steam turbine efficiency, while maintaining the reliability and robustness of our steam turbines are known for. We are applying various technologies, including advanced sealing techniques, integral covered buckets, higher temperature materials, advanced impulse aerodynamic designs, increased stage loading, and highly efficient inlets. The long-term goal is to develop reaction steam turbine technology as an evolution to provide improved efficiency over our current impulse technology.
Our operational excellence efforts are paying off. So far, we have a clear line of sight to reduce our costs by more than 25 percent. Further to this, we’ve reduced cycle times for a bare shaft turbine from 40 weeks to 26-30 weeks.
One of the toughest challenges is being able to bring new technologies to market fast enough. Speed to market is proportional to the money and people you can bring on to solve a problem. Using feedback from voice-of-the-client and voice-of-the market exercises, my team builds a business case around what products and technologies we believe have potential for development opportunities. We then translate that information into executable technical requirements for the R&D team. By connecting sales, plant services, operations, supply chain, finance, and services, we look at product development as a cross-functional effort, rather than just an R&D effort. And in doing so, we’re able to develop total life cycle solutions for our clients.
With the success of product management for the steam turbine business, we are now working to deploy this same model across other Dresser-Rand product lines. Looking ahead, the plan is to launch 1-10MW MST platform manufacturing at our Naroda, India Operations where the first units are expected to come off the manufacturing line in 2015 and then to begin developing a 10-30 MW standard MST program.