GROWIAN – What is it? Who was that? You will now ask these questions. GROWIAN was the name of a large wind energy plant built with public funding. It was designed for an output of 3 megawatts and started operating on 6 July 1983. However, the service life of this plant, which had been developed at a cost of EUR 28 million, was only 420 hours. The power of the wind was such that the rotor blades developed hairline cracks and the turning parts were literally ground to dust by the strength of the forces. "Biggest failure of German engineers" was the headline in some daily papers after the plant was taken out of service. But the engineers and companies, such as Eickhoff Maschinenfabrik, did not give up their struggle for energy from wind power. Eickhoff, which is a traditional family-owned company focusing on the manufacture of mining equipment and has its head office in Bochum, specialised in the production of gearboxes – in particular planetary gears – which convert the slower rotational speed of the rotors into significantly faster rotational speed for generators. Nowadays, Eickhoff is one of the main suppliers of large gear systems for important offshore wind power plants. The gearboxes produced today produce outputs of up to 6 megawatts.
The boom in wind energy meant that production capacity at the original factory in Bochum was soon reached. The RWTH Aachen Technical University was commissioned to develop a concept for a new production facility. In cooperation with RWTH Aachen, pbr AG optimised the work and material flows and building layout concept, thus achieving a cost-efficient production process.
At Klipphausen near Dresden, Eickhoff found a suitable site with an area of approx. 60,000 m² which allowed for the extension of the proposed buildings, as well as an additional second factory mirroring the first. The buildings of the new production facility consist of the manufacturing line, the hardening shop and an assembly hall, as well as a two-storey office building. The facades of the new buildings were designed in accordance with the Eickhoff Wind Power GmbH corporate design, therefore featuring fairly plain anthracite, white aluminium and yellow colour shades. A total of 170 jobs were created.
The facility has a floor area of 7,600 m² and produces mainly the internal gearbox parts consisting of planetary gear carriers, toothed gears and ring gears made from blanks. The completed gearbox parts must be extremely precise, which means that daily fluctuations in the indoor temperature must not exceed ±2°C and in certain areas, such as quality control, they must not exceed ±1°C. These requirements are met by virtue of building components that far exceed the requirements of EnEV, and by virtue of partial air-conditioning with its appropriate control system.