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Hydro - Machine-tool

Design, engineering, and manufacturing of a custom high-precision machine tool



More power is needed in North America, but very few new hydro dams are being built. Instead, dam owners aim to achieve better efficiency with existing power stations by installing new, more powerful turbines. When old turbines are removed from the dam structure, there is a pit with steel-embedded parts that need to be machined to fit the new turbine size.  

During a facility tour at Marmen, where our client noticed two machine tools designed and built by our engineering team to optimize our production capacity, they asked us to design and custom-build a machine-tool that allows on-site turbine pit machining with 3 to 8 meters (10 to 26 feet) diameter turning capacity.

Our challenge was to design a machining solution that would fit a diversity of turbine pit designs and dimensions, be quickly installed, easy to set up and dismantle, allow distance troubleshooting, and be run safely by the on-site crew.


In a collaborative approach with our customer, we have completely designed and built a brand-new machine-tool.  The process started with an extensive design period during which we shared concepts and ideas during weekly meetings. It took two and half months to finalize the pre-design and the scope of work.


To meet a very tight schedule, we purchased long lead time items before the final design was completed. This agile method allowed us to meet our customer’s requirements, as they evolved in the pre-design phase, without impacting the timeline or budget. We also accelerated the manufacturing process by doing concurrent engineering, the close cooperation between our procurement, design and engineering, and production departments was key to the project’s success.

Our expertise in complex machining and machine tools maintenance enabled us to completely design and build the machine tool at our facilities. The equipment is modular and allows to machine diameters ranging from 4 to 8 meters (13 to 26 feet). It works within very tight tolerances, performs turning and milling operations and has strong rigidity to minimize vibration.

An important requirement for our client was the speed of assembly and disassembly to facilitate transportation from site to site. The disassembled machine fits in five standard open top containers and is easily transportable. Furthermore, the machine tool was designed to meet the strictest health and safety standards.

The last phase of the project was to perform a functional test prior to shipment and to provide training at Marmen and at our client’s location. It is quite an achievement to have completed the entire process successfully, from the first discussion with the customer to the delivery of the final product, in less than a year.