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Orion “rush project” featured in major newspaper

One of Orion’s customers, GE Power Systems, discovered that the bearing for a major power plant project in Vietnam was lost, which could create a serious delay in getting the plant on line. GE turned to Orion, which had built a similar bearing in the past. Orion responded by designing, building and delivering the 1000 lb bearing in record time: two weeks to the day from receipt of the order. Orion’s performance was so extraordinary that it was featured in a page 1 story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Business Section. The full story is posted below.

Feature story printed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on November 29, 2003.

Supplied on a moment´s notice Grafton manufacturer comes to the rescue when GE is confronted with a construction ´emergency´

When the builders of a $480 million power plant in Vietnam were assembling the various parts for a steam turbine, they quickly realized that something was missing.

Lost or stolen was a steel bearing that weighed more than 1,000 pounds and was more than 3 feet in diameter. Contractors looked everywhere for the beefy metal part, but nobody had a clue as to where it went.

"It was just not there," said Gary Wegner, vice president of sales at Orion Corp., a Grafton firm that designs and builds a broad selection of hydrodynamic bearings for manufacturers of turbines, electric motors, compressors, generators and other rotating machinery. Without the turbine bearing, construction of the power plant would have been stopped cold. The consortium of French and Japanese power companies developing the plant could have faced millions of dollars in losses for the delay. One of the project´s major suppliers, General Electric Power Systems, immediately contacted Orion Corp. for a replacement bearing.

Normally, it would have taken Orion about four months to design and build a specialized bearing of that size, Wegner said. But the company had supplied General Electric with a similar part two years earlier. By dusting off those plans, along with writing some new ones, Orion was able to design and build a bearing for the Vietnam power plant in less than two weeks.

Employees´ schedules were rearranged to work days, nights and weekends. Other projects were put on the back burner to meet General Electric´s two-week deadline, and the bearing was delivered Oct. 31.

Orion had done rush jobs before. But not for a bearing that big on that short of notice.

Many manufacturing companies are getting tighter deadlines, often as part of routine business, said Michael Klonsinski, executive director of Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

"And the emergencies, like the case of a missing bearing, happen more often than many people realize," he said.

The original $20,000 turbine bearing destined for the Vietnam power plant, not from Orion, wasn´t found. It could have been lost or stolen, Orion officials speculated. The gas-fired plant is being built about 50 miles from Ho Chi Minh City and is expected to be operational in 2004. It is supposed to reduce power shortages and strengthen industrial development.

Wisconsin companies are doing more business in Vietnam, although it´s small compared with the attention given to China, Klonsinski said.

Orion sells products in the United States, Europe and Asia. The company has about 100 employees at its Grafton headquarters and manufacturing plant. It has a smaller plant in Columbus, Neb.

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