Interview with Michael Rohde, Managing Director of Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen
“We still have a lot planned”
150 years of Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen
The company is turning 150 this year. The early beginnings can be traced to the production of machines for woodworking. Is it true that Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen even worked in aircraft construction?
That’s right. In the past 150 years, MR has lived through nearly every radical industrial change. The MR airplane – which was not very successful by the way – was around back in 1923. It’s a wonderful example of the inventive spirit that’s still a part of our DNA. The company was already 55 years old then. But, as a precision machine shop, we were still in the middle of the first industrial revolution of mechanization. The “wake-up call” to get into the electrical world was still to come.
That airplane was not very successful. This made the company’s success that much more pronounced a few years later with the invention of the first high-speed resistor-type tap-changer for transformers – basically the “wake-up call” you described. How did that come about?
In 1928, in the first half of the last century, rapidly advancing electrification was the driving force behind the second industrial revolution. The infrastructure for the power grid was still very new and was suddenly confronted with many new consumers and individual load profiles as well as many electrical energy generators. This called for flexibility, which has also been the case recently with the integration of volatile renewable energy sources. The solution from Dr. Bernhard Jansen, then CTO of the local grid operating company, sounded simple, “Regulate the line voltage using non-interrupted changeover switching of transformers under load.” However, to this day, the revolutionary innovation of the high-speed resistor-type tap-changer is like a precision electromechanical clockwork for high voltages and currents which must function reliably under the most difficult conditions in the transformer tank. This was a challenge that could be mastered at the time only by the precision MR machine shop, and thus led to the collaboration between the inventor, Jansen, and the MR family-owned company. The production of tap-changers is still an important part of our business today.