Rolls-Royce has announced a $13.9 million investment in its Power Systems business unit for the addition of a new research and development building and multi-phase expansion of its MTU power generation manufacturing facility in Mankato, Minn.
The project, Rolls-Royce said, is a result of growth in the market – 2019 was a record year for the Mankato facility – and demand for increased product offerings resulting in the need for updated facilities, equipment and processes to safely handle customer requirements.
The main portion of the Mankato expansion will be the addition of 28,000 sq.ft. to the facility’s existing assembly hall, allowing for additional assembly lines, enhanced product testing capabilities and the creation of 20 new manufacturing positions. By expanding one of the existing assembly lines to accommodate the production of high-power MTU gas generator sets, capacity at the plant is expected to increase by an estimated 25%, the company said. This will mark the first time these gas generator sets have been produced in the US.
“Our MTU plant in Mankato has played a decisive role in our encouraging growth in the Americas,” said Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “We intend to continue on this successful course by working hard to emerge from the crisis stronger than before. More consistently than before, we are pursuing our strategy of evolving from an engine manufacturer to a provider of sustainable solutions.
“This investment in our Mankato plant will help us to meet the growing demand for energy in the Americas with locally manufactured products. Mankato will thus become an even more important part of our worldwide production network in the future,” Schell continued.
“Rolls-Royce has made significant investments in the gas systems business in terms of both products and people,” said Carsten Schrick, director for Gas Sales in the Americas. “We have seen an uptick in gas systems projects as a result and we expect that trend to continue, especially as our MTU systems can increasingly run on a variety of gases and offer fuel flexibility. When these systems are available from our plant in Mankato, we will be able to deliver them with shorter lead times to our customers in the Americas, which will be a great benefit for our customers.”
A final benefit of the expansion project is that it will allow for improved logistics services and safety enhancements to the site. With the added space, logistics will be separated from assembly operations, and oversized doors will be added to better facilitate lifting and rigging operations. The traffic routes and parking for the site will also be modified to separate truck traffic from employee parking.
Along with the facility expansion, the overall project investment includes the addition of a new research and development building, upgraded production test cells and the remodeling of the facility’s front office administration area. The new R&D center, which will be fully operational this month, will include a dedicated test cell to meet customer-testing requirements for products going into data center applications. The three production test cells in the main facility will be upgraded to meet these same criteria for testing production units. The front office renovation was completed in December 2019 and included the addition of 21 new workstations.
The first phase of the assembly hall expansion is set to be complete in February 2021, with the final phase targeted for completion in September 2021.