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Time is of the essence – How the spare parts business deals with supply bottlenecks

In the wind energy sector, speed is often essential. Quick deliveries, quick repairs and quickly getting the turbine online again: Achieving the best possible uptime involves a number of sprints. Preparations are necessary to ensure that as little time as possible is lost in the event of a malfunction. This includes professional spare parts management. However, this can be particularly difficult in times of supply bottlenecks for raw materials and components. A look behind the scenes shows what is important from a spare parts point of view when the rotor blades stop turning.


"The wind industry has also been affected by supply chain bottlenecks and price increases of raw materials since 2022, some of which have been extreme. And this is expected to continue for some time. We have repeatedly seen operators get into trouble because they didn't have professional stock management or spare parts strategies and they didn't adjust their stock levels in these difficult times," said Jonas Gottwald who leads a six-person team as head of Spare Part Sales at Deutsche Windtechnik. He joined Deutsche Windtechnik almost three years ago, bringing a lot of experience in the distribution of spare parts with him. At that time, the world was still different in many ways. That was also true of the spare parts business at Deutsche Windtechnik. "During the first few years of Deutsche Windtechnik, supplying spare parts to clients who did not have maintenance contracts for their turbines with Deutsche Windtechnik was more of an exception. However, over the years we have seen a noticeable increase in interest in special spare parts. This is true of small parts as well as large components. We received inquiries from all over the world. We had to react to that.“ 

Focus on Europe and new in the United States 

The good thing about it was that the company didn't have to start from scratch. After all, what good would a globally positioned service provider be without excellent, well-established spare parts management? The purchasing, logistics and technology departments at Deutsche Windtechnik have worked closely together from the very beginning to ensure that supply chains function reliably. “Today we have a very good supplier network and large purchasing volumes throughout Europe for all manufacturer technologies that we provide maintenance for.” A number of strategic partnerships have also been established. Clients who need spare parts also benefit from all of this. "Without an efficient, comprehensive supply of spare parts, we would not be able to ensure maintenance for the turbines that we have under contract. This is exactly what our Spare Parts Sales Department provides throughout Europe. Due to increasing demand and significant growth potential, we are also now professionalising our spare parts business in North America. Our newly established department in the United States serves the entire North American market and provides our clients with the same added value as in Europe."

One-stop shopping, from small parts to large components 

The sales of spare parts has grown tremendously at Deutsche Windtechnik over the last two years. Sales have actually tripled. "In general, we want to provide comprehensive service for our clients. We see ourselves as a one-stop shop where our clients can buy any spare part they need for their turbine portfolios, from screws to rotor blades, and with a very fast response time," Jonas Gottwald said. "Overall, we receive a lot of requests for express delivery. One good example of this was a request from Sweden, which we received in the morning. We were able to deliver the spare part within four hours. This included setting up the new client in our system.“ 

What is the deciding factor for spare parts sales at Deutsche Windtechnik?  

Is it enough to quickly deliver the required spare part? "We not only supply spare parts, we also provide expert technical support. For example, we can identify components based on photos and identification plates and then obtain the part from the original manufacturer. Or we can make a recommendation regarding which possible components or combinations of components might be used as a replacement for discontinued components,“ Jonas Gottwald said. Deutsche Windtechnik can offer very good prices for certain components because it has framework agreements with the original manufacturers and has in-depth knowledge of the market. "We are particularly well positioned for spare parts management of the turbines we provide maintenance for. Here in particular we can leverage special knowledge, historical data, failure rates and refurbishment expertise." With the Deutsche Windtechnik Control Systems unit for the area of electronics and with the company “gear-tec” for the refurbishment of large components, Deutsche Windtechnik has its own in-house refurbishment capabilities. "We expect the area of refurbishment, i.e. the overhaul and repair of components for reuse, to continue to grow strongly in the coming years. In addition, we have developed our own components to achieve higher performance and reduce dependency on suppliers. Our external clients also participate in these solutions. In general, we have a very fair and transparent pricing policy." 

Stock consulting – expert advice on how to set up warehouses 

One special field of expertise of the spare parts team is stock consulting: "Many operators, such as large energy suppliers, have switched to servicing their wind turbines themselves, and setting up and stocking their own warehouses can be a significant challenge. This topic has become even more urgent in view of the supply bottlenecks mentioned earlier. As part of stock consulting, the internal areas of technology, purchasing and sales influence analyse together how the warehouses should be organised and equipped. For example, we issued a stock recommendation for 365 parts for a client in Finland and successfully implemented it."

Contact Jonas Gottwald l Team Lead Spare Parts Sales j.gottwald@deutsche-windtechnik.com 

 

 

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