You can read the article about the Lincoln Electric Wind Tower in the November 2011 issue of the NEOconomist which is part of Inside Business Magazine.
You can also read the slightly longer, unedited version below.
It's the kind of company that every region around the globe is trying to attract. A high-tech company with world-class technology. A world leader in traditional development and manufacturing but also a pioneer in the latest renewable and green technologies.
If you had a company like that, you'd want a monument to its success and potential. Even better if that monument was a testimony to their own technology and could produce hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings for the company.
The fortunate region to have such a company is our own Northeast Ohio and the sought after company is none other than Lincoln Electric.
It may have been easy to ignore Lincoln Electric over the years. After all, the company has been around since 1895. And though they are the world leader in the design, development and manufacture in their field, arc welding products are not as 'sexy' as the latest biotech or computer innovation. Countless commuters have driven past their World Headquarters in Euclid, just east of downtown Cleveland, without giving Lincoln another thought. The Welding Experts®? Yawn.
Driving east on the Shoreway, you can't miss the 443' tall wind tower with its base at Lincoln's campus at East 222nd and St Clair, less than two miles from Lake Erie. It is one of the largest urban wind towers in North America and has quickly become a landmark.
The dedication ceremony of the wind tower took place on August 23, 2011 and the excitement from public officials, Lincoln Electric officers and attending guests was evident. John Stropki Jr., CEO of Lincoln Electric and George Blankenship, president of Lincoln Electric North America were unabashedly proud of the achievement. Euclid Mayor Bill Cervenik called the tower a landmark and praised the public/private partnership that made it happen. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald called it a "tangible symbol of what our potential is." Lincoln Electric has long been one of Northeast Ohio's World Class Assets and the wind turbine is a towering visible reminder of that fact.
For those who consider the arc welding space to be a dirty leftover of Rust Belt technology, take a tour of Lincoln's manufacturing facilities. In the spotlessly clean environment, watch a robotic arm move into position to locate a specific part. Observe as a technician uses a touchpad display to command a robot to weld in circles, squares or crooked lines. See a robot trace a part and determine its part number. How about a submerged arc (exclusive to Lincoln Electric Cleveland) with no smoke, bright lights or heavy gear?
You won't find assembly lines. Almost everything is custom designed for their customers whether large like Caterpillar or John Deere or smaller such as a turkey farm in North Dakota. Over 7,000 people have come to their training lab. Still not 'sexy" enough? How about custom products for NASCAR or the Iron Man 2 movie?
But it's the wind tower outside that serves as a beacon to innovation and a commitment to renewable energy. The tower is part of a strategic partnership between Lincoln Electric and the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force. The Task Force is a public/private entity formed to create a viable market for renewable energy in Northeast Ohio.
The fabrication of the wind tower used 2,951 lbs of Lincolnweld® L-61® submerged arc wire and 5,875 lbs. of Lincolnweld® WTX™ flux. The wind tower is not just a showcase for Lincoln's welding solutions. The 2.5 megawatt turbine can produce enough energy to power 686 homes and is expected to generate up to 10% of the energy used in Lincoln's main plant which will save up to $500,000 a year in energy costs.
The misguided Don Quixote fought windmills, imaging them to be giants. He would be helpless in attacking this giant, as the 3 blades each measure 164' from the hub center to the blade tip and 328' in diameter. The swept area of the blades is 84,000 sq. feet. That's 1.5 times larger than a football field. Depending on the weather (this is Cleveland after all) the wind operating speed is 6.5 mph to 56 mph.
The overall weight of the tower, including the nacelle (which houses the tower's electronics) and the hub, is more than 800,000 pounds. About 2,800 cubic yards of earth were excavated to 14 feet below grade to construct the base. 595 cubic yards of concrete were poured in the foundation base and pedestal along with 65 tons of reinforced steel rebar.
"The tower represents important cost savings, as well as our commitment to integrating renewable energy sources, among other ongoing green initiatives, into our manufacturing processes," says George Blankenship, President, Lincoln Electric North America. "It stands as a visible symbol of Lincoln Electric's commitment to the wind tower industry by showcasing the benefits our welding solutions offer to a prominent, fast-growing business segment."
Don Quixote dreamed the impossible dream. Lincoln Electric took on a quest and succeeded. "I'm also very proud of the hard work of the members of our internal team. We took the project on as a challenge," Mr. Blankenship says. "We're a can-do organization and always look for creative solutions."
As I left a meeting recently near University Circle, I spotted the blades spinning miles away in the distance. I am not sure how far the tower can be seen but the reach of Lincoln Electric, one of NEO's world class assets, is truly around the world.
Lincoln Electric Wind Tower
August 23, 2011 - FAQ and construction pictures
Lincoln Electric Wind Tower
August 23, 2011 - Dedication and Ribbon Cutting
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