MAG launches Renewable Energy Business Unit

Efforts in the business unit will focus on design and manufacture of automated manufacturing systems for wind turbine components and solar panels. Composites look to be a big part of the unit's business.

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MAG Industrial Automation Systems (Erlanger, Ky., USA) announced on May 4 the formation of a new Renewable Energy Business unit to design/build automated manufacturing systems for wind turbine components and solar panels. The new business's operations are based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, and Hebron, Ky., and are headed by Dr. Siegfried Schmalzried in Europe/Asia and Joe Jones in the Americas.

According to Jones, the renewable energy business is off to a strong start. "In recent months, we have secured $30 million in contracts, which represents an approximate 30 percent share of our targeted market, putting us on track for our goal to produce 10 percent of MAG's annual revenue," he stated.

"While our business unit is new, MAG itself is already firmly established in the renewable energy sector, having quietly built a worldwide leadership position in automated manufacturing systems for solar panels, not to mention composites processing," Jones added. "MAG has supplied more than 30 automated production lines for solar panels in all regions of the world in the last five years, and our systems have reduced manufacturing costs for solar panels to record lows." The company has supplied solutions ranging from semiautomatic modules to complete turnkey factories in all corners of the world for panels that use the latest materials technology.

"In recent years, we have pivoted our composites and machine tool automation businesses to concentrate on wind turbine components, too, allowing us to bring to market new systems for automated lay-up of composite wind blades, finishing, and root-end drilling, all of them based on proven technologies and modules," said Jones. MAG created the original composites processing automation technology for the aerospace industry in the late 1980s, and its systems are widely used in major worldwide aircraft programs.

MAG is currently sharing in a $7 million grant from the state of Michigan to develop a revolutionary wind hub machining cell for high-volume manufacturing, and pursue development of carbon fiber turbine blades. "This unique hub machining cell will increase production rates from the current standard of one per day to as many as five per day, cutting machining times from 20 to 24 hours per part to just over four hours," Jones stressed.

MAG is focused on expansion to serve customers in emerging sectors in key markets, Jones added. "We opened a new Composites Technical Center in Göppingen, Germany, in 2009, and a new plant in Changchun, China, earlier this year, so now have 24 worldwide facilities, 15 of them in Europe and Asia."