There was a cold and strong wind in the morning of the 7th of December, nevertheless everyone was excited for the two days to come! The bus left just after nine o’clock to Lünen, Germany where we would visit a coal plant. During the construction of this plant (which started in 2008 and finished in 2013) ESI Eurosilo had the task to place their special storage system. Under the supervision of Richard (one of the owners of ESI Eurosilo) and an employee of the coal plant, we were allowed to walk around the facility.
We started off at the port where the coal comes in. There we followed the continuous belt conveyer to the storage silos. Some of us were brave enough to climb the 40 meter high stairs to the top entrance, the others took the elevator (wussies). The coal that comes in at the port is transported to the top of the two silos, each having a volume of 100,000 m3. We entered one of them to see how the system works and to experience how much 100,000 m3 really is. Everyone was astonished by the size of the silo and the amount of coal that was stored there. We were allowed to walk freely over the storage system and make pictures of everything we found interesting. Any questions regarding the system, no matter how difficult, Richard could answer them all. After a last few looks around the silo, we continued the tour to other parts of the coal plant. We have visited the boilers, the steam turbine and much more.
Even though coal plants are not the most eco friendly way of generating electricity, for now we cannot do without them. There is not enough renewable energy (yet) to provide every household and the lack of a good working storing system for electricity forces us to keep using fossil fuel based plants for the coming years.
After the very insightful tour, we went to Dortmund. The first stop was our hostel which is located in the centre of the city where we dropped off our stuff. We continued to an Italian restaurant for diner and drinks. We all talked about what we have seen and learned and had a good laugh with each other. The initial plan was to go to the Christmas market, but due to the bad weather we decided to go to a bar instead. With the complete group we ordered multiple 3L beer towers! Some of us left after a couple of hours for a good night sleep, while others went to the next party…
Some may have had a short night sleep, but after a bowl of yoghurt, a boiled egg and glass of orange juice everybody was ready to go to KROHNE Altometer. Underway we stopped for an exquisite lunch at the one and only McDonalds before visiting the company.
Arriving at KROHNE, we were welcomed by Pim Stam. We first went to the conference room for a presentation about the company’s history & products and their lean principles. Pim told us that the magnetic flowmeter was invented by a Dutch person and that the focus of the company is more on quality than quantity. The company mainly produces two types of flowmeters, the first type works with electromagnetic fields and the second type ultrasonic sounds. These flowmeters can reach an accuracy of up to 99.97%. In total 95% of the flowmeters is sold outside of the Netherlands. The focus of lean principles is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. KROHNE tries to achieve this by rearranging the workplace, creating a system, deadlines and much more. More of this will be discussed in the course: “Advanced Operations and Production Management” given by Wouter Beelaerts van Blokland.
After the presentation, the excursion continued with a tour through the different departments of KROHNE Altometer. The production of these flowmeters are separated by technology and size. One of the first things we noticed is that the assembly of these flowmeters is labour-intensively, this is due to mainly low batches in a high variety of sizes. KROHNE also tries to make the complete product inhouse. Only in special cases the flowmeters have to be outsourced, for example if the flowmeter is too big for the spray booth. We visited the assembly of the small electromagnetic flowmeters, the big electromagnetic flowmeters, the ultrasonic flowmeters and a special department for the assembly of flowmeters for the nuclear industry which have to comply with a lot of regulations. The testing facility for the bigger flowmeters is also really impressive. The company uses two towers filled with water to calibrate the flowmeters. Pim told us that the ground trembles when these tests are performed, unfortunately there were no tests during our visit.
It is hard to put on paper what we all have seen and heard, it is something to experience. It was impressive to see how much is done by hand and to learn that only 5% of these flowmeters is produced for the Netherlands. We finished the excursion with a picture of the group and Pim in front of KROHNE Altometer.