At the Forefront of the Wind Energy Boom
July 12, 2021
It’s a big year for Wei Wang, general manager of Timken’s facility in Xiangtan, China. In December 2020, the Company announced a $75 million investment in wind and solar energy markets. Much of that investment goes to Timken’s Xiangtan plant. Over the next 12 months, Wang will oversee the expansion of the plant’s footprint.
“The Xiangtan plant delivers a broad wind portfolio,” says Wang. “We see significant and growing demand in Chinese energy markets, especially for larger wind turbines that require our ultra-large-bore bearings for their main shafts. Extending Xiangtan’s capacity is critical for us to continue serving Chinese wind energy customers.”
China continues to outpace other countries’ renewable energy markets by large margins, so it makes sense to invest there. The Chinese government has set a target of fulfilling 20% of the country’s energy needs with renewables by 2030.
“While many markets were roiled by the uncertainty of 2020, renewable energy had a breakout year, and Chinese markets overall remained steady,” says Andreas Roellgen, vice president, Europe, Asia and Africa. “We’re grateful to our associates in China for stepping up the way they did and continue to do.”
The investment in renewable energy represents not only the strategy of the leadership team, but the initiative, as a company, to build a more efficient world, using the wealth of Timken’s engineering expertise. The Xiangtan plant stands out for Wang’s leadership and drive to advance sustainability and increase the knowledge and skills of her team.
A commitment to learning and development
Wang’s career grew along with the Xiangtan plant, which has been at the center of China’s renewable energy boom for the past 13 years, and which helped turn the industry into the company’s single largest market segment.
She joined Timken as Xiangtan’s finance manager after its groundbreaking in 2008. “In the beginning, I didn’t have much expertise in bearing manufacturing,” she says. “To excel in my role, I had to improve my understanding of manufacturing processes, quality requirements, and everything else.”
Intensive learning and career development are prominent themes for Wang, and she didn’t rest after honing her manufacturing skills. In 2011, she was asked to add human resources (HR) to her duties, which opened a whole new area of exploration.
“Finance is about data. Human resources—that’s pure artistry,” she says. “So, I just kept learning. Timken leaders recognized my potential and worked with me to develop my skills.”
The company has a strategy of building local factories to meet local market demand and then hiring, training, and promoting the brightest local talent to run those facilities, so Wang’s upwardly mobile experience is not unusual.
In those years of growing Xiangtan’s initial capacities, she had her work cut out for her. She was so successful that she was asked to spend a year sharing her skills at Timken’s facility in Ballarat, Australia. After returning to China, she became general manager of the Xiangtan facility in 2015.
Finance is about data. Human resources — that’s pure artistry. So, I just kept learning. Timken leaders recognized my potential and worked with me to develop my skills.Wei Wang
Building on a LEED-certified foundation
As Xiangtan’s general manager, Wang represents Timken as a member of the broader community and the world. “Our global reputation as an ethical company and a good corporate citizen distinguishes us from many manufacturers around the world,” she says.
To meet that role with integrity and consistency, Wang places a high priority on sustainable practices wherever they can be found, including making sure the plant continues its LEED-certified status as it moves into the next phase of expansion.
Timken followed LEED criteria throughout design and construction of the plant, recycling more than 20 precent of construction materials and using environmentally friendly adhesives, sealant, paints and carpets throughout.
Dormers and high-transmission visible light glass usher daylight into more than 75 percent of plant operating space, and a high-efficiency air-conditioning system, CO2 sensor and fresh air inductor save energy and improve environmental quality. In addition, the plant recycles water for sanitation and other uses, which cuts water use by 40 percent.
“As a major player in the renewable energy sector, we are constantly improving our energy strategy,” says Wang. The plant’s manufacturing processes also contribute to energy savings.
That focus on sustainability matters a lot in a country of 1.44 billion people, with a population density of 153 people per square kilometer, and Wang is proud of Xiangtan’s role in reducing waste and improving environmental quality in the region.
“As the world continues to transition to renewable energy sources, we will see continued investment in the Xiangtan facility,” she says. “Therein lies our growth.”
From products to processes, Timken is reducing the environmental footprint of their operations and those of their customers. Read about their global initiative to drive down single-use plastics.