Kuhlman Electric Corporation

Kuhlman Electric Corporation

Simulation Modeling and Analysis Saves Costs


Kuhlman Electric was founded in 1894 and was purchased by ABB in 2008. ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries. The Crystal Springs facility employs over 200 people and manufactures oil-filled instrument transformers and small power transformers.

The Challenge

The Crystal Springs Winding Department was benchmarked and compared to similar ABB facilities throughout the world. The Crystal Springs coil winding process, when compared to other ABB benchmarks performing the same operation, was lacking in productivity. The facility expended 161 more labor hours per unit on average than the benchmark. The benchmark plants had 12 winding machines to meet the volume that the Crystal Springs plant was producing with 22 winding machines. Management was considering whether to outsource the coil winding to be more cost-competitive.

MEP Center's Role

NIST MEP's InnovateMEP Mississippi Center at Mississippi State University (MSU), composed of engineers from the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS) Extension and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, was called upon to help. They provided training in simulation modeling and analysis along with simulation modeling support to ABB-Kuhlman engineers. The simulation model developed of the winding department identified cycle reduction through a variety of ways, simulated the implementation of winding standards, identified the optimum number of winding machines, and demonstrated the potential effects of new technologies. This simulation model provided management with the data needed to buy in to the changes suggested by ABB-Kuhlman and the InnovateMEP engineers.


• 46 jobs retained
• $1.6M capital investment
• Reduction of 185 labor hours per transformer, on average
• EBITA cost improvement of $1.13M annually
• Blue-print established for other departments to follow

“The Simulation Modeling software easily handled our complexities and variations. Simulation allowed us to quickly optimize labor utilization and clearly define our path of implementation. The expense of trial-and-error was avoided, since all trials took place using simulation. Thanks to our friends at InnovateMEP for their support, guidance, and training!”
Wyatt Koerner, Sr., Manufacturing Engineer