AEMT - Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades

25 July 2018
PARTZSCH – A 49,000 Square Metre Electrical Engineering Power House.
Thomas Marks, secretary to the association, visits PARTZSCH Elektromotoren to find out how a German electrical engineering behemoth has boomed since the fall of the Berlin wall.
Test field for electrical motors and generators up to 11 kV.
Based in Döbeln, Saxony; PARTZSCH was founded in 1954, by Werner Partzsch as a repair business for electrical machines and systems, handling equipment up to approximately 200kW. Later in 1989, soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Thomas Partzsch became head of the family company. With the German structural and social constrictions changing rapidly, the opportunities for developing PARTZSCH began to ripen. Over a period of 20 years, Thomas Partzsch developed the small crafts business into a mid-sized enterprise committed to electrical machine manufacturing.

Thomas Partzsch’s revamped technology business used funding from regional and European subsides to get to the behemoth of today. The company has grown to include 27 purpose-built production halls, scattered within a 500-metreradius to makeup a staggering 49,000m2 production area, a rare find in Europe for this industry! The group of 6 companies offers a complete service in the field of rotating, electrical machines from 100kW up to 250,000 kVA. By bringing most services in-house Thomas Partzsch eliminated any dependence on collaborative partners, meaning the organisation can offer extremely short delivery times without compromising on quality. 

These days, the spectrum of services the company provides ranges from a copper rolling mill and laser cut laminated cores to the installation of windings into new and repaired machines, as well as components of different sizes and types. The extent of possibilities are far too vast to cover in this article, and a look at the company’s website, detailed below, serves as a better outline.

The repair services are a growing side of the business, and includes disassembly, cleaning, drying, rewinding and re-impregnation of stator and rotor windings. Mechanical reconditioning includes the repair and reclamation of bearing housings, renovation of fans, overhaul of junction boxes, replacing cable leads, installation of laminated cores, rotor bars, welding, replacement of tie rods and much more. A rotor-balancing service can balance all rotors from approximately 10kg to 32 tonnes at their nominal speed (2-12 pole). Machines up to an individual unit weight of 120 tonnes can be reconditioned; with a rated voltage up to 18 kV. A 1200kW test bed tests motors and generators up to 11 kV. 

Thomas Götze – Plant Manager, PARTZSCH Elektromotoren

Thomas Partzsch’s involvement with the group runs deep after nearly 30 years at the top. As he reaches retirement age, it is becoming important for him to take a step back from the day to day running and let others understand the businesses for the benefit of it’s future. One protégé who has taken on the electric motor side of the business met with me to give an overview of the organisation.

In his mid-thirties, Thomas Götze is an approachable, and enthusiastic individual with an enormous capability to understand the complex systems in play at PARTZSCH. Now in his 18th year at PARTZSCH, he started his apprenticeship back in 1999 when there were only 90 employees, they’ve since grown to a staggering 700. 

During an intense time in many areas of the company as an apprentice, Thomas settled in the testing field for a while before taking a degree in Electrical Engineering at Dresden university. On completion he was offered the opportunity to become the head of process planning and technology.

3 years ago, he became Plant Manager for the Electric Motor side of the business. The role enables him to have a much wider view of the company and takes away the burden of day to day activities from Mr. Partzsch. The role focuses on managing employees, operations and bringing in new business.

These days, Thomas’s involvement in the procurement of larger customers is a large part his of job, particularly because he has the experience within the company to make quick decisions and make the sales process go smoother. With many ties developed over the years within companies such as Siemens,  ABB and GE, his value to the company is proven. 

He enjoys the job, overseeing 350 people brings a lot of responsibility and he feels honoured to be in the position. Recognising the need to keep his own skills up to scratch, is the reason why he chooses to professionally develop himself – outside of work he is now studying for an MBA. 

The problems he faces running a company in Germany aren’t dissimilar to that of the UK and internationally. As the young look for desk-based jobs, finding skilled hands-on workers for winding a large variety of motors is getting harder. Situated near Leipzig and Dresden provides the company with many high-skilled engineers, but not at a practical hands-on level. Soon, as the market adapts, and technology takes over, these jobs will become scarcer. Perhaps in a few years, Thomas speculates, what was once seen as a low paid job, will become much higher paid to attract the right talent again. 

For the time being the company’s strategy is based on marketing campaigns and visiting local school job fares to attract young talent.

PARTZSCH Elektromotoren

Handling a huge variety of machines from 120kg to 160 tonne machines in the workshops means having a slick operation is critical. To get a competitive edge, speed is of the essence and Thomas Partzsch’s philosophy has been to instil a ‘deep manufacturing process’ in the company. With the capability to machine most aspects of AC/DC equipment from rotor/stator laminations to windings and coils, the most notable benefit has been having wire manufacturing in-house. Lead times are drastically reduced, with the goal to become the fastest repair shop in Europe, not far out of reach. 

With plenty of space to spread, the company has been lucky to be able to build and expand with purpose-built units when necessary. While touring the facility, it was clear that keeping the various facets of the company separated was playing to PARTZSCH´s advantage. All units are bright, roomy, immaculately clean, and constructed with plenty of space to make use of. While many companies have a ‘dirty’ area for burning off and cleaning equipment ready for repair – PARTZSCH enjoys a separate unit altogether. For a ‘dirty’ area, it is also immaculately clean.

Productivity is a key driver in the business. When it comes to repairing a variety of different machines, unlike manufacturing, it is difficult to setup a production line, however, what’s key is the flexibility of the space. Workspaces are ergonomically setup for the worker, with plenty of light and space to move around the equipment. The machines are placed on rotating drums, so the worker can easily rotate the machine to allow ease of access to the slots being worked on. Tools are organised in trolleys which can be positioned close to hand for each worker. 

With 350 employees to manage, training has been critical. Every employee is familiar with every aspect of a machine’s build. They work on a rotational system allowing them to have variety, but it also allows them to jump into another’s role if there’s a high demand in the department. 

The bulk of the work comes from different areas; traction, wind energy, general industry, power plants and chemical industry. Customers from all over the world are regularly welcomed in the small town of Döbeln. 

For special bespoke machines, retrofitting, and reverse manufacturing projects PARTZSCH engineers are called onsite to take measurements and specifications for a replacement machine. Once armed with all the details, the calculation office will design a replacement machine, while considering where optimisation can be used to increase the equipment’s efficiencies. Often, repairing the machine brings a certain amount of constructive retrospect, making it easier to improve the original design. After a significant run time, it’s easier to find the machine’s weak spots. It’s obvious (from 20 years of experience) that using new technologies, in terms of materials or design, which worked well in other machines, will improve this machines design. 

Predictive maintenance

What about the future? As smart factories become more commonplace (especially in Germany), more customers are becoming aware of predictive maintenance. PARTZSCH are starting to ask themselves how exactly to approach the new technology. 

There’s no doubt the technology is a benefit to customers, but many are wary about how to use the technology wisely. Who own’s the data, and how do you analyse the data without getting bogged down in the detail? Does the customer notify PARTZSCH about a warning sign, or should it be PARTZSCH notifying the customer? 

In time, more know-how will be made available to the customer as well as to PARTZSCH. Intelligently predicting faults is becoming an increasingly important subject, so concepts are being developed within the Research and Development department as well as with various partners. These concepts should bring great advantages to the customer as well as develop PARTZSCH’s know-how.

Media

Oswald-Greiner-Strasse 3 Gewerbegebeit Dobeln-Ost, Dobeln, 04720, Germany
0049 3431 7166-100
Oswald-Greiner-Strasse 3, Gewerbegebiet Döbeln-Ost, Döbeln, 04720, Germany
+49 3431 7166-100
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