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08.06.2020 Rising to the challenge, staying the course, achieving results

The extensive contact and travel restrictions as well as the closing down of production and training facilities resulting from the coronavirus pandemic are forcing society and businesses to think in new ways and accept responsibility. Inevitably, even a company that provides services for wind turbines has to deal with the topic of the coronavirus. First, the good news: OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and ISPs (independent service providers) both seem to be well positioned in the crisis – both in Germany and on an international level. Why is this the case and what do we need to bear in mind?

Generally speaking, services for wind turbines have been classified as ‘systemically important’ during the coronavirus pandemic, meaning the industry can draw from an expanded pool of options to maintain its operations. Nevertheless, in addition to the recommendations and regulations issued by authorities, there are also highly individualised conditions in different countries in terms of tasks, organisation and human resources, including the personal situations of employees. Actions and reactions in the crisis call for a high degree of agility and dedication.

What keeps the turbine service going?  

As with all companies, the primary goal of a service provider is to do billable work, i.e. to achieve its business objectives or, more specifically, to fulfil its contracts. While most office activities are now being carried out from home, it is almost business as usual for onshore service. Existing crisis strategies have been further developed and new measures rigorously implemented, including:

  • Avoiding mixing of teams
  • Suspending or reducing training and courses or switching to online alternatives
  • Reducing travel activities as much as possible 
  • Avoiding/reducing contact related to service activities

Strengthening and expanding protective measures and equipment, etc. One key advantage is the relatively remote location of wind turbines. This means that there is no risk of infection. However, organising operations often involves more work now. Not just for larger deployments with several teams, but also for standard operations. If an overnight stay is necessary, employees have to be provided with all necessities. What these necessities include may depend on how remote the location is. It is often impossible to provide important support functions from a home office, such as spare parts management and remote data monitoring. In addition to hygiene and protective measures, other models must be applied here, such as working in shifts, being divided into groups (with no contact between them), separation of work areas, remote material transfers, etc.  

Offshore challenges

There are a number of factors that cause more issues for the offshore service, including the need for travelling by sea, staying overnight on boardship, using larger teams and travelling across borders. Necessary border crossings, for example, could be made possible by individual official permits. There is also frequent communication with other authorities, such as employer’s liability insurance associations, e.g. regarding the extension and definition of certificates, including in the area of training. All of these measures help to ensure that Deutsche Windtechnik as well as other service providers can maintain almost the same level of availability as before the crisis. Cases in which force majeure has needed to be invoked have almost been eliminated. However, the dynamic and sensitive development of the crisis calls for continued commitment.