Tees Components has completed a ground-breaking project that has created an innovation breakthrough generator for the wind sector.
Along with partners, the Teesside firm has built what it describes as the first credible ferrite-based direct drive permanent magnet generator (DD PMG, for short) for wind turbines.
The innovative project, carried out on behalf of SME Greenspur Renewables, is a revolutionary technology with the capability to reduce the cost of wind energy.
Direct drive generators are increasingly used as an alternative to turbine gearboxes with their limited design life, but require rare earth magnets, 90 per cent of which are sourced from China, making them both scarce and expensive.
The huge advantage of the DD PMG manufactured by Tees Components is that it is rare earth-free. Ferrite is up to 40 times cheaper and much more abundant, with the ability to manufacture ferrite magnets in the UK.
The North Skelton-based company was contracted to manufacture and assemble a complete prototype 250kW generator which will now be tested by ORE Catapult, the UK’s leading innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy, at its facility in Blyth, Northumberland.
The Greenspur Renewables project was particularly challenging and involved sourcing materials of varying specifications, machining components, procuring other parts and processes from specialist suppliers, stores management, the fitting of the magnets and the final complete assembly, which was carried out in May.
With a range of workshops, areas of hard standing and excellent lifting equipment,
Tees Components was able to create a designated controlled access workshop which provided the necessary four-metre headroom in which to assemble and load the generator.
Quality, safety, health and environment management was undertaken by Tees Components’ qualified staff, with all work carried out to ISO 9001 and 14001 2015 standards.
Safe working was ensured by risk assessing the processes – a challenge on occasions due to the fact ferrous materials were strictly forbidden within the facility because of the magnetised materials.
Sharon Lane, MD of Tees Components, says that the generator project shows just how far the company has come in terms of diversification and highlights the capabilities and expertise of Teesside’s supply chain cluster.
“This has showcased the innovation of our mechanical engineering team and their ability to adapt and produce something that’s never been done before,” said Sharon.
“It is also an excellent example of the collaboration and partnership that is possible here on Teesside, with a number of local suppliers including Marine Fabricators, Universal Coatings, Hawk Fasteners, Shoreline Engineering and Stockton Bearings all making a contribution through the supply of their products and services.
“We look forward to working with Greenspur Renewables on future research and development projects as their products develop.
“There has been real diversification allowing Tees Components to become successfully established in new markets.
There has been a great deal of investment over the last few years and we are very confident about the future.”
Machine tooling expertise keeps Tees firm at the forefront
Well known for its specialism in heavy CNC machining, Tees Components is dedicated to a process of continuous investment in the latest technology to machine large-scale components.
The company boasts clients in a wide range of key industries, including defence, renewable power generation, new nuclear and decommissioning and marine.
Its move into new markets means the company currently has a strong order book, bolstered by long-term accounts.
Its continued aim is to be the number one company for the delivery of complex highrisk and large-scale components.
As a result, it has one of the largest machining capacities in the UK, with the ability to machine components in a range of metals, from mild steel and duplex to Inconel and aluminium.
Tees Components recently completed work to recalibrate one of its most important machine tools at its modern six-acre site, as well as investing £50,000 in a portable measurement arm for the verification of precision machined work.
Its horizontal borers range up to almost 12 metres in x-axis travel, vertical borers can turn up to seven-metre diameter and, as the factory is serviced by a 72-tonne overhead crane, there are few jobs it cannot undertake on the grounds of size or weight.
One machine tool the company is particularly proud of is the Schiess Horimaster, a 10m x 4m x 1.25m CNC floor borer manufactured in Germany. It features a CNC rotary table as well as extensive floor plates and has produced a wide range of components for power generation, marine, oil and gas, and defence sectors since it was installed in 2014.
In addition to its size, it is trusted with many precision contracts, which means accuracy is crucial. It was decommissioned in May to allow for full re-alignment and calibration work to take place and now achieves 0.075mm over ten metres – especially suited for very large fabrications with precision machining requirements.
All precision machined work must be verified, and Tees Components recently took delivery of a new portable £50,000 measurement arm, the Faro Quantum S 4.0m 6-axis arm, which replaces a previous model.
The portable coordinate measuring machine is the first to be verified to ISO 10360-12:2016. The largest, most accurate model produced, its maximum permissible error over four metres is just 0.045mm (0.0018”).
Sharon adds: “It is crucial to our clients that Tees Components maintain the very highest standards of accuracy to allow us to consistently machine large-scale components in a variety of metals, often involving highly complex projects, whilst maintaining the tightest of tolerances.”