MRO Magazine

Timken targets wind power market with new developments

Canton, OH -- The Timken Company plans to expand production capacity at its Tyger River facility in Union, SC, to s...


Canton, OH — The Timken Company plans to expand production capacity at its Tyger River facility in Union, SC, to serve the wind energy market. The investment is part of a strategy to strengthen Timken’s position to serve growing global demand for highly engineered large-bore bearings that will help customers harness wind power to meet the energy needs of the future.

Timken expects demand for large-bore bearings used in main-rotor shafts and gear drives in wind turbines to grow rapidly in the coming years as reliance on renewable energy increases. The Tyger River investment will allow the company to serve demand from North American customers and provide expanded capability to produce prototypes in support of new wind-turbine programs.

“This investment exemplifies how we’re reshaping our portfolio to grow and optimize our business from top to bottom,” said James W. Griffith, Timken’s president and chief executive officer. “We stand to achieve greater returns by refocusing existing assets and investing in new capacity to serve our most promising market sectors, which certainly includes wind energy.”

Expansion work at Timken’s Tyger River location will begin in 2009, with production currently slated for 2010. It will be the company’s second wind-related commitment of the past year, following formation of a joint venture with China’s XEMC to build a new main-shaft bearing facility in Xiangtan, Hunan province. Construction of that new facility is scheduled to begin this year.

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In another related announcement, Timken says it has broken ground on a new joint-venture wind energy plant to be built in China. Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (XEMC) is the other entity which is part of the joint-venture. The new company will produce ultra-large-bore bearings for large scale wind turbines, using advanced technology to help China meet its growing demand for alternative energy.

The new US$38-million facility will be located in the city of Xiangtan in China’s Hunan province to manufacture high-performance bearings for the main shafts of wind turbines. Renewable energy is an emerging technology where bearings can play a significant role in improving reliability.

Timken’s alloy steel expertise, power-transmission design and precision manufacturing capabilities combined with XEMC’s leadership position in Chinese heavy equipment manufacturing are well-positioned for China’s rapidly growing wind energy industry. The joint venture is expected eventually to employ more than 100 people.

Timken holds an 80-percent ownership stake in the joint venture with XEMC. Bearings produced at the facility are destined solely for the China region and are expected to be available in 2010.

Timken supplies a broad range of friction-management and power-transmission solutions to wind-energy markets including cylindrical, integrated flexpin and large-diameter tapered bearings, as well as high-quality alloy steel components.