Those who are familiar with the subject should skip this section and move on to the history of Regulateurs Europa. If the topic is new to you then some explanation is necessary for an understanding of Regulateurs Europa's business.
For large diesels and most of their applications the issues of governing and control are of critical importance. At its most basic we are concerned with controlling the quantity of fuel injected into each cylinder immediately before the start of the power stroke. Provided there is sufficient air for combustion, the quantity of fuel injected determines the torque (or turning force) produced by an engine. In practical terms the torque is proportional to the position of the rack which controls the fuel pump and quantity of fuel injected. The principal function of a governor is to vary the position of the fuel rack to match an engine's power output to changes in load and to control engine speed.
A major application of large diesels, for example, is driving alternators for electrical power generation. The requirement is generally to produce alternating current at either 50 or 60 cycles per second which requires the engine to operate at a constant speed. The speed must be a multiple of 50 or 60 such as 1,200, 1,500 or 1,800 rpm. The potential problem is that increased load on the alternator places increased load on the engine which will tend to slow down, and vice-versa if load on the alternator drops. In this application the art of governing is to quickly detect changes in electrical load and engine speed, and increase or decrease the amount to fuel injected to achieve the required power output and keep engine speed constant within strict limits. Effective governing and control becomes even more complex and critical in power generation installations where two or more engines and alternators are required to operate in parallel. One of Regulateurs Europa's particular specialisms is designing and manufacturing the control systems and panels for this type of installation.
Engine governing is, of course, much more sophisticated than the above introduction may suggest. For instance in a turbocharged diesel the rate at which fuelling is increased during acceleration needs to be controlled. When accelerating there is a time lag between the injection of additional fuel and the turbocharger(s) increasing speed and charge air boost pressure. If too much extra fuel is injected before there is sufficient additional air to ensure its full combustion the results are emission of partially burnt fuel (in the form of smoke), fuel wastage, and potential engine damage. A properly designed governor will limit the rate of increased fuel injection to match the air available for combustion. This is just one example of the various refinements incorporated in modern governors.
One characteristic of a diesel engine is that it has no natural top speed. Under light or no load conditions the more fuel injected, provided there is sufficient air for combustion, the faster it will go. The faster it goes, the faster fuel is injected. In the absence of proper controls the process can become a vicious circle with speed continuing to increase until the engine literally flies apart. A distinctly unnerving and dangerous situation, as those who have experienced it will testify. The risk of this happening is small while an engine is under load, but increases if the load is suddenly uncoupled or rapidly drops. Another function of a governor, therefore, is to limit an engine's maximum speed by reducing the amount of fuel injected when a set speed is reached. As a failsafe on larger diesels it is also normal to have what is called an overspeed trip. If the engine exceeds a safe speed the trip triggers a shutdown by shutting off all fuel. This in itself is not always sufficient to stop an engine. A fast moving engine starved of fuel oil can in certain circumstances suck sufficient lubricating oil fumes or mist from the crankcase, up past the piston rings into the cylinders, to continue firing. To meet this eventuality engines may also be fitted with an air flap valve. If triggered by the overspeed trip the flap valve closes thus shutting off all air to the engine. Starved of fuel and air no further combustion is possible and the engine quickly comes to a halt.
Earlier engine governors were all mechanical and utilised fly weights not dissimilar in principle to those found on early steam engines. Mechanical governors are still widely used. Those now made by Regulateurs Europa are very sophisticated, utilising hydraulic power and stabilisation systems and an extensive range of servo assisted control inputs. This technology forms the backbone of the actuators produced by the Company which provide the muscle to complement the brains of digital electronic systems.
Photo: Regulateurs Europa 1100/4G Governor
In the 1960s Regulateurs Europa began work on electronic governing and control. The electronics at the time were analogue, as digital technology was not yet available. One of those engaged on this work was Roger Wheeler who was with the Company from 1967 to 1974. His recollections about the work, and the personalities involved, form Appendix A at the foot of this page.
With the increasing sophistication and speed of modern engines, technologies now available, and the demands of end users, digital electronic control offers many advantages. To appreciate the technical challenges involved in modern diesel engine control it needs to be remembered the control is being done 'in real time'. Governing a large diesel producing, say 5,000 bhp, is not an academic exercise and there is no opportunity for a dummy run. The control technology used is also 'closed loop'. The microprocessor outputs used to control the engine are themselves constantly changing in response to inputs from the engine, such as that from a speed sensor on the flywheel. Microprocessors will only do what they are told to do and so sophisticated software engineering is required as well as a good understanding of how a large engine behaves.
In recent years Regulateurs Europa has expanded into areas such as engine condition monitoring and engine management systems. Using digital electronic microprocessors it is possible to monitor various aspects of an engine's performance while it is running. These include charge air boost pressures, exhaust temperatures from each cylinder and oil pressure. Monitoring a number of these parameters provides valuable information about what is happening in the engine. Using this data it is possible to manage the engine's performance to achieve improved fuel consumption and emissions. Such data may also fulfil diagnostic functions and provide early warning of impending failure, allowing the user to stop an engine before major damage is done. Again, it allows reduced reliance on set service intervals. In suitable circumstances these intervals can be safely extended if the system shows an engine is still performing within acceptable limits, thus savings costs for the end user.
Soon after the Second World War the Board of Davey Paxman & Co decided that the governing of high speed diesel engines was fast becoming a specialised function which no longer fitted easily with the normal engine and sub-assembly build activities. Several people were brought together as a team to investigate and devise a system for designing and assembling governors using components manufactured within the Paxman Works. Under the new system the Company found itself assembling governors much more quickly than the engines for which they were intended, resulting in 12 months supply of governors being produced within three months. It was decided therefore to try to sell the surplus governors to Paxman competitors, such as W H Allen of Bedford, Mirrlees and Ruston (Mirrlees and Ruston are now part of MAN B&W Diesel Ltd, along with Paxman and Regulateurs Europa). These competitor companies were interested in purchasing but, naturally enough, only if the equipment did not carry Paxman nameplates.
It was this proviso which led to the formation of Ardleigh Engineering in January 1954. The new name was registered in 1954 and the business started trading as Ardleigh Engineering the following year. The origin of the name was that one of the senior managers of the company lived in the local parish of Ardleigh. To further put customers' minds at ease by avoiding the impression that the new governor company was too closely connected with Paxman, it was found a new home away from Colchester. The Company leased a disused hangar at nearby Boxted Aerodrome which had previously been occupied by the United States Air Force during the Second World War. This became the official address of the new business which never actually transferred to Boxted. The hangar was used mainly as a storage facility for Paxman engine parts. Governor production continued at Standard Works in Colchester until it was transferred to Britannia Works in about 1956 or 1957.
During the period at Britannia Works the Company continued to update its governor designs and began to diversify into related products. These included thermostatically controlled by-pass valves, speed switches, overspeed trips and control systems. The latter were to become a large part of the Company's business in future years.
Meanwhile the governor division of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation of America decided to cease its operations in Europe. After the war it had set up a small manufacturing facility in the Netherlands and had been producing the EHP (European Hydraulic Proportioner) governor as a sideline to its aircraft business. When sales declined due to obsolescence it decided to divest itself of the Dutch business. At the time Paxman viewed Curtiss-Wright as one of the principal competitors of Ardleigh Engineering. Geoffrey Bone, then Managing Director of Paxman, was on business in the United States when he heard the business was for sale. He immediately changed his itinerary to call unannounced at Curtiss-Wright's offices in Cleveland, Ohio, requesting to see the boss. His host, perhaps surprised by the speed of developments, agreed there and then to sell the Dutch operation to Paxman, which acquired it in 1958.
As the newly acquired business could not continue to trade under the name of Curtiss-Wright a new name was needed. Mr Schroder, the manager of the old Curtiss-Wright factory in Leiden, proposed the name 'Regulateurs Europa'. About this time the British Government was negotiating to become a member of the EEC. The move would see trade barriers lifted and allow British manufacturers easier access to mainland European markets. For this reason, and the fact it was impractical to have two separate names for what was basically one company, the decision was taken to drop the name of Ardleigh Engineering and trade jointly under the name of Regulateurs Europa. The Company started trading under the name of Regulateurs Europa in September 1962.
Later developments saw the acquisition of the old laundry in St Leonards Road, on the north side of Paxman's Standard Works. It initially provided accommodation for control systems production whilst governor manufacture remained at Britannia Works. In the Netherlands there was also a change of location when the Leiden operation moved to a new factory at Roden, near Groningen, built with assistance from the Netherlands government.
In 1965 the Colchester Works were brought together under one roof when governor production and office staff were moved from Britannia Works to the enlarged St Leonards Works. At a later stage Regulateurs Europa also occupied the old School Room on the corner of Standard Road and St Leonards Road. Latterly RE's development workshop was based there. Next to the offices adjoining the St Leonards Works a portacabin provided accommodation for the Sales Department. Having staff scattered in these different locations was far from ideal for a Company employing about sixty people.
All the Colchester staff were eventually brought together in 1993 when the Company moved out of its various St Leonards Road premises into the 'West Building', a one storey building on the main Paxman site. (Previously the West Building housed the offices of both Paxman's Spares & Service Division and the Paxman Filtration Division. Paxman Filtration, the last remnant of what had been Paxman's boiler business, was sold to Brackett of Colchester in April 1989.)
From the establishment of Ardleigh Engineering in 1954, up to late 2005, the ownership of Regulateurs Europa mirrored that of Paxman, as described on the Ownership & Identity page of this website.
Under GEC ownership the business traded as Regulateurs Europa Limited in the UK, and as Regulateurs Europa BV in the Netherlands. Following the formation of the Anglo-French joint venture GEC ALSTHOM it became GEC ALSTHOM Regulateurs Europa Ltd. After the joint venture's flotation in 1998 the Company traded as ALSTOM Engines Ltd, Regulateurs Europa in the UK, and as ALSTOM Netherlands, Regulateurs Europa in the Netherlands.
When the Company was acquired, along with Paxman, by MAN B&W Diesel AG in June 2000 the UK operation changed its name to MAN B&W Diesel Ltd, Regulateurs Europa. On Friday 16th December 2005, the business was sold by MAN to the privately owned Heinzmann GmbH Co KG of Schönau, Germany. Regulateurs Europa Limited at Colchester, and its sister company Regulateurs Europa BV at Roden in the Netherlands, continue to trade under the Regulateurs Europa name, but now as Members of the Heinzmann Group.
As will be evident from the above history, Regulateurs Europa acquired an identity of its own very soon after formation. It had long had its own Engineering, Development, Manufacturing, Sales, Spares and Service functions. In reality the ties with the much larger Paxman business remained very close. Not only was Paxman a major customer but, for example, up until the late 1980s the General Manager reported to the Managing Director of Paxman, and all accounting remained the responsibility of Paxman's Accounts Department and staff. For several years, up to the beginning of April 1988, the Director & General Manager was Frank Norris. Frank took early retirement to assist in his son's growing business and was succeeded by Geoff Gant. The 1990s saw moves towards greater autonomy with the Director and General Manager reporting to the Group Managing Director, in the same way as the Managing Director of Paxman. Regulateurs Europa also established its own quite separate accounting function. These development were natural as the business increasingly moved into electronics based technologies, rather than mechanical ones which are Paxman's strength, and as it developed into different markets with a different customer base.
As well as specialising in digital electronic governing and control, engine condition monitoring, and engine management systems, the Colchester headquarters continued to design and manufacture mechanical governors and actuators. The Roden facility manufactured and overhauled mechanical governors and actuators and provided customer support for them in mainland Europe.
Another activity undertaken at Colchester was the design and build of control panels for power generation and marine propulsion engine installations. These were custom made to meet the specific requirements of the customer and the application. Shown here is part of the control panel built for the Thames Water Treatment Plant at Deephams.
One should perhaps think of the Company not so much as one producing a range of products but as one which offers an engineering capability or which is a solution provider. Much of its work is project based, working closely with customers to develop control solutions to meet their very specific requirements. An interesting, challenging, and satisfying type of modern engineering encompassing mechanical, electrical and electronic disciplines.
Acknowledgements: Much of the information on the early history of Regulateurs Europa was drawn from an unattributed article published in a 1987 issue of 'Paxman World'.
Thanks are due to Roy Toyne, Engineering Manager of MAN B&W Diesel Ltd, Regulateurs Europa, and Geoff Gant, a former Director & General Manager of the Company, for their assistance in the preparation of this page.
Recollections of Roger Wheeler who worked at RE from 1967 to 1974.
I joined Regulateurs Europa (RE) in 1967, having left Marconi Marine Radar Development. At RE I was employed as Electronics Design/Development Engineer working for the Technical Director, Ray Fuller, in the Electronics Design group led by Ted Baldwin. Ted was a very clever innovator who had left Plesseys at Braxted Park bringing with him Bill Bees, an experienced electronics Design Engineeer.
RE, with its strong associations with Paxman, was mainly staffed by Mechanical Engineers with legendary experience in the design of hydraulic governors and actuators. In the early 1960s design work began on 'Electronic Governors' using magnetic amplifiers. This initial work was followed by a solid state, transistor 'Electronic Governor'. Both designs used existing engine-driven hydraulic actuators and achieved acceptable isochronous / droop performance. In parallel with these developments, large scale Combinational Logic and Semi-Sequential Relay based control systems were being designed and built within RE's factory in St Leonards Road. This work was led by Frank Norris and his team which included Tony Murphy, Neil Pears and Angus Swain. With great vision, RE was expanding its sphere of activities well beyond its established Hydraulic Governor and Actuator roots.
Ted Baldwin's team began designing electronic sensor interface modules that could be incorporated into the sophisticated and established Relay Logic Control Systems. The plug-in modules being solid state, reliable and fully assembled at RE, gave a huge cost effective advantage to the RE systems being sold around the world.
I worked on 'Temperature Alarm and Monitor' modules. These were used with either resistance bulb thermometers or thermocouples for oil, water and exhaust gas measurement respectively. The thermocouple amplifiers at the time suffered with thermal drift problems that were brilliantly solved by Ted's 'Chopper Stabilised Scanning Amplifier'.
Also produced were 'Electronic Speed Switches' and programmable delay modules. One of Ted Baldwin's inspirational designs was a fast response, solid state, 3-phase load level monitor. Using this we were able to design the RE 500 Diesel Electronic load sensing, load sharing governor with impressive 'full load - no load' transient response performance. This led the way forward for future designs for both gas and steam turbine governors.
In the early 1970s Rod Lappage, also from Marconi, joined the group and designed RE's first 'All Electric Governor' i.e. electronic sensing and electric actuator. Around this time RE also manufactured an Admiralty-designed Electronic Governor, having gained the prestige of Admiralty Approval for its electronic manufacturing and testing facilities.
The diversification into other areas of 'Engine Control and Monitoring' I recall are the design of pneumatic control by Roy Toyne and High Voltage Switchgear systems by George Cutting (an ex-Crompton Parkinson Engineer). This allowed RE to further provide bespoke innovative, flexible and reliable solutions to both land-based and marine engine control systems.
I left RE in 1974 to join the teaching staff in the Electrical Engineering Department at the Colchester Institute. I remained there until my retirement in 2003. My experiences at RE helped me a great deal to explain 'real engineering' to my students.
Roger Wheeler Dec 2011
Additional Notes by Richard Carr on some of the personalities mentioned above:
By the time I joined Paxman in 1985, Frank Norris was General Manager of RE and Tony Murphy was Sales Manager. Frank Norris remained General Manager until his retirement in April 1988. Tony Murphy left in 1986 to advance his career elsewhere. If I remember correctly, Roy Toyne was appointed Engineering Manager in place of Geoff Gant who succeeded Frank Norris as General Manager. As at 2011 Roy Toyne was still working for RE for one day a week on a consultancy basis. Rod Lappage left in 1990 after giving nearly 34 years service to the Company, and Bill Bees retired in 1998 after 30 years service. As at 2000 Neil Pears was still working in RE.
Page updated: 26 AUG 2013