Bergen Engines to double production capacity
The introduction of 'flow line' production processes is expected to double production capacity at Bergen Engines by 2020
Rolls-Royce subsidiary Bergen Engines is to double its production capacity over the next three years with the introduction of modern ‘flow line’ processes and the redesign of engines to enable the new system.
The company has already relocated service and storage functions from its 21,000sq m factory to make space for the new process layout, which aims to halve throughput time and reduce engine build time by 27%, according to Helge Skaar, communications director, Bergen Engines. The company produced a record 204 engines in 2015, but following the drop off in offshore activity has since reduced its workforce from a peak of 1,100 to around 700. By 2020 Bergen aims to be capable of building 400 engines a year.
“This is the biggest change since the factory opened at its current site in 1971,” said Skaar. “Inspired by our German colleagues [at fellow Rolls-Royce Powersystems company MTU], we are introducing flow-line production similar to that of a modern car factory.”
Separate production lines have already been introduced for components including cylinder heads, cam-rods and crankshafts. When full flow-line production is in operation, engine mounting will be divided into four equal stages taking the same amount of time. For bigger or more challenging engine builds, more people will be deployed to the individual stages as needed to ensure timing remains constant, while ‘hospital bays’ will be available to take problematic builds off the production line. After mounting, a similar process will govern dressing of the engine – installing piping, cables, foundation plates and so on – after which the completed engine will be sent for testing.
The new factory process will also require a change of approach in engine design, noted Thor Humerfelt, head of engineering, Bergen Engines. A modular approach in the design of the modern B3X:45 family, for example, means that pistons of different bore sizes – such as the 330mm cylinders in the liquid fuel engine and the 360mm ones to be introduced for the gas version under development – will be housed in similar engine blocks. The engine family’s cylinder heads, which currently feature nozzle injection, have been sized to accommodate common rail injection, simplifying any changes to production when that option is introduced.