The power of the dairy air

Sept. 8, 2011

I always enjoy a trip to the great state of Wisconsin, our neighbor to the north and home to some of the finest cheese makers in the United States. This week, I drove to Wisconsin, but not for the food. I visited Wago's North American headquarters (www.wago.us) in Germantown. It's a spectacular facility with more than 75,000 sq ft of space for assembly, warehousing, manufacturing, material handling, and research, along with administrative and marketing offices.

I always enjoy a trip to the great state of Wisconsin, our neighbor to the north and home to some of the finest cheese makers in the United States. This week, I drove to Wisconsin, but not for the food. I visited Wago's North American headquarters (www.wago.us) in Germantown. It's a spectacular facility with more than 75,000 sq ft of space for assembly, warehousing, manufacturing, material handling, and research, along with administrative and marketing offices.

But on this day I was there to witness the addition of a new feature to the Wago site. A 96-ft-high wind turbine, which can be raised or lowered for easier maintenance, was tipped up for the first time and set into operation. You can watch the tip-up at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9gg-rdTZMI. The ability to lower the wind turbine for maintenance eliminates the need for an individual to elevate a technician to perform repairs.

The closed-loop control system adjusts the pitch and direction of the blades based on wind conditions, and diagnostic data from the CANbus network is converted to Ethernet, where it can be monitored remotely by Renewegy, the manufacturers of the wind turbine.

The total system cost Wago about $80,000, half of which is covered by various energy-related incentives and credits. And while the wind turbine is mostly a showcase for the Wago components inside and for Renewegy, one of Wago’s customers, the fact is Wago expects the wind energy from this installation can supply up to 10% of the facility’s energy needs.

That’s not enough production to consider the specifics for putting power back in the grid, but it is enough to consider the energy savings Wago will realize. After the turbine was raised and tested, we were allowed to partake in a small ceremony and eat some cake, a sculpture that looked almost too good to eat.

I thought a cheese sculpture would have been more appropriate, but it doesn’t go as well with ice cream.
Here’s to harnessing the power of dairy air.

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