Ideal conditions for premium manufacturing quality
Caterpillar has expanded the Mannheim location to become a global Gas Center of Excellence, bundling all the development and production steps under one roof. The manufacturing lines are renowned for high production quality – not least due to the company’s experience of 150 years, boasting a long tradition in engine production. This experience is supplemented by continuous further development and improvement of the cogeneration plants as well as the gas engines and gensets in cooperation with our international partners.
Production and assembly
In-house manufacturing of all key components guarantees a high level of quality. The investments made by Caterpillar Energy Solutions in the expansion and modernization of the production facilities enable state-of-the-art manufacturing and also offer sufficient capacity for anticipated growth scenarios and the related boosts in demand.
Floating down the warehouse aisles
The flexible assembly system using air cushion technology enables the production of all the variants in different lot sizes with a minimum of logistical overhead. The materials are delivered directly to the assembly line, while the capacity can be individually controlled via worker assignments.
The specially designed fixture machinery at the new center for machining large connecting rods can produce at a precision of up to 1/1000 mm. Combined with a special grinding process, the connecting rod meets the highest quality standards and ensures perfect power transmission. The resulting optimized production times enable an increase in capacity, allowing the growing demand to be met in the years to come.
Quality is the highest priority at Caterpillar Energy Solutions. The company’s many years of experience and expertise are already reflected in the design and development of components. Cooperation with first-class suppliers is an additional quality trademark. All components, whether produced in-house or sourced, are tested according to rigorous quality criteria.
The 3D measuring machine integrated into the production line and featuring advanced, fully automatic metrology guarantees the production of premium quality components. The slightest process variances are detected and remedied immediately in order to meet our high quality standard.
Real-life testing via genset and container test facility
The Caterpillar Energy Solutions genset test facility was expanded and modernized in 2008. The highly-innovative genset test equipment allows us to simulate and test all current customer specifications. Flexible transformers as well as a power converter make up the centerpiece of the test bench system and enable the simulation of any customer specification.
The electricity generated at the test facility is used for powering the factory in order to reduce both the CO2 output as well as energy costs. The surplus electricity is fed into the grid of the local energy provider.
Caterpillar Energy Solutions produces significantly more electricity per year than the entire plant consumes. The combination of uniform test bench automation and advanced energy management ensures the highest quality and efficiency.
Test facility for various MWM gas engines
In the summer of 2013, a new container test facility, involving an investment of some € 1.5 million, was put into operation. It consists of a CHP container with a TCG 2016V 16 gas engine genset and a medium-voltage container that feeds the generated electrical output into the factory electrical system via a transformer. This electrical output and the factory’s own CHP plant, enables MWM to produce electricity for the factory’s own needs and even feed electricity into the public grid of MVV, the local energy utility. The generated heat output is utilized in MWM’s heating network.
The aim of this investment is, firstly, to operate a series product such as the standard container in continuous operation and, on the basis of the anticipated results, to optimize the container configuration and the individual system control loops, such as the heating and mixed cooling circuit, along with the ventilation concept, according to customer specifications. Secondly, this test facility enables testing of the requirements stipulated in the latest feed-in guidelines for the public grid under real-life conditions and providing proof for certification of these units.
Overall, the test facility is configured to allow the operation of various container sizes with electrical outputs between 400 kW to 2,500 kW at different electrical voltages. That is why the sizing of the concrete foundation was chosen for the largest deployable container with the TCG 2020 V20 gas engine genset. The standardized connections for the heating system and gas supply enable easy and quick swapping of the containers.
Employees and processes
Caterpillar Energy Solutions invests not only in a modern production line but also in its employees and processes, in order to guarantee continuous improvement in production methods and thus in the final products. The corporate Lean Manufacturing Team provides tools of lean production processes to the teams on site, in order to continuously optimize productivity and lead times.
All employees involved in operations complete training courses for “Continuous Process Improvement” (CPI) at regular intervals and thus make a vital contribution to the development of the location by implementing improvements in their own workshops.
From the initial customer inquiry to the commissioning of gensets, Caterpillar Energy Solutions operates on the basis of clearly-defined and transparent processes. The resulting quality and efficient delivery times are key differentiators that set us apart from many of our competitors.
In the Caterpillar Energy Solutions logistics center in Lorsch, Germany, we coordinate the worldwide shipping of service parts via sea, land and air cargo.