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Stations Pumping Russian Oil Now Have Russian Hearts

Date of publication: 26 October 2018 Printable version

A plant recently inaugurated in Chelyabinsk will make procurement of high-voltage motors from abroad redundant.


Russian President Vladimir Putin jump-starts the Russian Electric Motors factory by video conference. In Chelyabinsk, the “launch button” was pushed by Valery Bondarenko, the General Director of Konar, Nikolay Tokarev, the President of Transneft, and Stefano Zecchinato, a representative of the Italian company Nidec ASI (pictured left to right). Photographer: Denis Bazarov

It’s quiet and clean in the plant’s shop, as if it were a laboratory. The intense light of lamps reflects from poured floors, and robots are frozen in anticipation of sophisticated assignments. In a minute Transneft’s President Nikolay Tokarev will push the red button, launching the new plant in Chelyabinsk.

Russian Electric Motors (REM) is a joint venture of Transneft and the Konar industrial group. The first stone of the plant’s foundation was laid two years ago by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. President Vladimir Putin is watching the launch of this important industrial facility from the Kremlin.

A curve is going up on a huge display set up in the shop, resembling a trail left by a plane taking off. The first motor assembled at the plant is picking up speed in the test room. The curve transforms into a flatline, which means the motor has hit the performance benchmark and is operating trouble-free. A crucial milestone has been crossed! Now, the most up-to-date high-voltage electric motors on the planet are made in Russia, being 15 times cheaper than their European analogues at that.

“Not so long ago, we have opened an oil pumps manufacturing factory in Chelyabinsk, and now we’ve learned to make motors for them. This means a vertically integrated manufacture of assemblies which are the heart of every oil pumping station in Russia,” says Mr. Tokarev. “From now on this will be a Russian heart.”

Robots and Human Beings

Russian Electric Motors was built with the assistance of Nidec ASI, considered the world leader in this sphere. Contrary to statements made by European politicians, Italians want to collaborate with Russia, and they have even disclosed their secrets accumulated during 100 years to Chelyabinsk craftsmen.

“The plant has received all design documents; its employees have worked many years on probation in Italy, and now Chelyabinsk is an advanced centre like us,” Stefano Zecchinato, the project’s curator and Operations Director of the Nidec ASI plant in the city of Monfalcone, comments respectfully.

However, our plant is also superior to others because it is the newest one. For instance, there is a unique stamping section in Chelyabinsk, where billets are made under pressure, with metal being cut by robots in an isolated cabin: its walls do not let in dust and absorb noise, so it’s quiet and clean inside the shop, almost like in a hospital. A huge milling machine is also covered, reminiscent of a metro train car, and it only needs two hours to perform the work that took months to complete before.

Particularly impressive is a giant “steamer” where parts of motors are soaked in resin to create insulation. The “broth” inside is reused dozens of times, saving resources and caring for the environment. Speaking of clean air, the plant has no adverse effect upon the environment, in spite of being located in the city. Moreover, the industrial site’s vicinity is imbued with aromas from a nearby bakery.

The plant’s roof is one big solar battery, generating enough power to provide lighting for production sites and accommodation units. There are countless niceties like that. The plant has already been christened as the technological breakthrough of the year.

For Domestic Needs and for Export

The Chelyabinsk plant’s start-up is one of the stages in Transneft’s large-scale import substitution programme. As soon as by 2020, only 3% of ready-to-use parts and components used by Transneft will be procured from abroad. Everything else the Company needs will be made by Russian manufacturers.

Till this year’s end the factory in Chelyabinsk will have put out six motors, next year – 49, in two years from now – 300. This will fully satisfy Transneft’s needs. From then on, the plant will be ready to export its products, offer them to Russian Railways, shipbuilders and manufacturers of wind mills. In the words of Transneft’s President Nikolay Tokarev, thanks to this, it will take just 6 years to recoup the RUB 12 billion invested in the motor manufacture.

To implement this plan, 350 new jobs are being created, with the Chelyabinsk workers’ monthly wages promised to be higher than region’s average: at the level of RUB 57,000.

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