Siemens Norwood Stands the Test of Time – Celebrating 120 Years of Motor Manufacturing and Innovation

Siemens Norwood Stands the Test of Time – Celebrating 120 Years of Motor Manufacturing and Innovation

Ryan Maynus, AboveNEMA Product Manager

Siemens Norwood plant has certainly stood the test of time. George Bullock built the plant in 1898, and founded the Bullock Electric & Manufacturing Company. At the time, this was one of Norwood’s first industrial plants, and the city of Norwood, on the outskirts of Cincinnati, had a population of around 6,400.


The plant’s neighbors were an exclusive group. United States Playing Card Company’s 30-acre factory, the largest manufacturer of playing cards in the world, sat on one side, while General Motors sat on the other side, building iconic models such as the Impala, Nova, Camaro and Firebird. Both have since moved on, and yet Siemens Norwood plant remains.


Just a few years before the opening of Bullock Electric & Manufacturing Company,

industrialists and entrepreneurs across the globe were battling it out on the invention front, building new machines to efficiently power the Industrial Revolution.


In 1856, Siemens founder, Werner von Siemens, built an electric generator – the first to place windings into slots. This invention marked a turning point in the design of electrical machines. All previous designs disappeared from the market during the following decades and, to date, almost all electric motors are built with windings in slots. The same year, Siemens produced around 50 such motors for the Bavarian railways.


In 1879, Siemens invented the first electric railway with a power supply provided via the tracks. That same year, he had the idea for an electric elevator – showcasing his dynamo machine/elevator at the Mannheim Pfalzgau Trade and Agricultural Exhibition where 8,000 people came to visit.


Through the 1900s, the Norwood plant was eventually sold several times, and came under the Siemens name in 1978. She spent decades building some of the world’s most efficient electric motors, and was called to duty during both WWI and WWII to produce equipment for the U.S. military.

The electric motor continues to be the backbone of production for many top industries – from transportation to oil and gas to chemicals and more. Siemens has invested heavily in Norwood, as well as in motor research and development, committed to building the most efficient motor possible. In fact, a $30 million plant upgrade in 2007 reduced the distance that parts traveled through the plant for production from six miles to two miles. We also increased our capacity to build bigger motors, up to 20,000 HP.


Many of the signs of the plant’s history are still visible. While you won’t see any hay from the mule shed that existed where the employee cafeteria stands today, you can see the train tracks from where trains would load and unload in the plant. The plant has employed generations of workers, and has even hosted a wedding.


As the Norwood plant has evolved, so too has the electric motor. Siemens Simotics AboveNEMA motors built in Norwood are highly efficient, rugged, durable and often customized for the solution. These motors, in an integrated drive system (IDS) configuration featuring drives, automation and controls, are now smart devices. In the world of big data, connectivity and transparency, innovative solutions like drive train analytics (DTA) are providing vast amounts of information about motor productivity for predictive maintenance operations – resulting in reduced downtime for our customers.


And since we are talking about our customers, we maintain a customer-first approach to how we go about business in Norwood. Recently, we completed a multi-million dollar investment. Norwood now features what is believed to be the largest motor test base in North America, capable of testing motors from 10,000 – 20,000 HP at frequencies from 10 Hz to 300 Hz, thus addressing the market’s growing use of variable frequency drives, part of the IDS approach mentioned earlier. We also built a one-of-kind observatory, where customers can actively participate in the testing of their motors.


Norwood is a great facility backed by a great team. Happy 120th Anniversary!


Editor’s Note: Read more about Norwood from Gary Mintchell at The Manufacturing Connection, or check out this video about Norwood here.


Published On: September 25th, 2018