The Green Deal and the efforts required to become climate neutral, however, have created some major challenges for the wind energy sector as well. More than ever before, wind farm operators are being called on to deliver as secure a supply as possible – at cost-effective conditions. Now bear in mind that Germany currently has around 31,100 wind turbines. More than 30,000 turbines that, as a general rule, are designed to run for a period of 20 years. A long time, during which technical progress continues to be made. At the same time, wind turbines gradually become less productive as they age – a consequence of wear and tear and an increased need for repairs. The magic words here are servicing and maintenance. Wind farm operators that ensure their turbines are maintained regularly and equipped with the latest technology will be rewarded with a more efficient and more sustainable business.
Be it onshore or offshore: a wind turbine’s advantages can only truly come to the fore if it is reliable, efficient and productive – and that throughout the whole of its operating life. In practice, this means detecting and resolving any possible faults in good time. However, no matter how well wind turbines are maintained, it is impossible to completely prevent either wear and tear or faults from occurring. Speed is of the essence when repairs are needed. Every day of downtime is a day lost – after all, the wind doesn’t stop blowing when the turbine has been switched off.
XERVON Wind has been offering the wind energy sector the support it needs since the middle of 2021 – from installing and commissioning wind turbines, to inspection and servicing work, all the way through to replacing main components and working on the rotor blades and gearboxes. And so XERVON Wind is able to accompany onshore and offshore wind turbines throughout the whole of their operating life. The portfolio of this newly founded company is complex and its market highly faceted. Maik Schlapmann and Tobias Wilming, XERVON Wind’s managing directors, talked about the company’s first successes, their strategic initiatives for the future and the link between wind turbines and Industry 4.0.
The energy output of offshore wind turbines is twice as high as that of similar land-based turbines.
Maik Schlapmann (l.) and Tobias Wilming, managing directors of XERVON Wind
RE:VIEWS: XERVON Wind has been around for just six months*. Is it really possible to talk about successes after such a short period of time?
Maik Schlapmann: For sure. It’s been full speed ahead for us right from the start. We had the company up and running in no time at all and our staff were out and about over the following months. Our first projects came in just a few days after we officially opened our doors – projects that included working at offshore wind farms in the North Sea as well as servicing onshore wind turbines. At the same time, we had our sights on the coming year and began preparing for 2022 – something that has further strengthened our current position.
*Middle of 2021
RE:VIEWS: And what exactly were these preparations?
Tobias Wilming: For example, building up a qualified team of experienced service engineers. XERVON Wind began with a small number of skilled operatives and we were able to steadily grow our workforce throughout the second half of last year. Our company had 70 employees by the end of 2021. We could have taken on more staff but we just didn’t have the space. We’ve now found a new business premises in Lingen. We moved there at the beginning of this year and now have the capacities to further grow our business.
There are over 31,100 wind turbines currently operating in Germany; unlike fossil fuels, such as crude oil and coal, there is an endless supply of wind.
RE:VIEWS: Was there one project in 2021 that you would describe as being a key milestone?
Maik Schlapmann: XERVON Wind succeeded in being accredited by two of the largest wind turbine manufacturers within just five months. That was a great achievement on our part – especially the tight time frame. Such accreditations normally last much longer as the manufacturers are very exacting.
Tobias Wilming: The certification process involves stringent requirements and a heavy workload. You need to provide proof of your employees’ various qualifications, a quality management system has to be put in place and much, much more. It is extraordinary that we managed to do all the work so quickly. It was a team effort and something we can be very proud of.
RE:VIEWS: You have to compete with others and are still building up your business. And you must prove yourselves at the same time. What’s the best way to do this?
Maik Schlapmann: The size of a company and its existing structures are not everything in our business. The wind energy sector has so many different facets – from large wind farms at sea to small local community wind farms on land. Being flexible is key if you want to succeed in this industry. You have to be prepared and be able to enter into partnerships with wind farm operators of all sizes and treat them all equally no matter how large or small they may be.
Tobias Wilming: Other things that are important include being reliable, demanding very high quality results of your own work and being innovative – something that also involves the subject of Industry 4.0 nowadays. This is precisely what XERVON Wind offers and it is this proposition that will help us to succeed on the market.
What does XERVON Wind do?
Being a partner for the wind energy sector, XERVON Wind offers highly specialised services for onshore and offshore wind turbines. Besides carrying out inspection, servicing and repair work, it also installs and commissions wind turbines. Its extensive range of services covers all tasks relevant to the sector as well as complex solutions so that wind turbines run smoothly and achieve the highest possible electricity output. Founded in the middle of 2021, the company has around 70 employees working at its two business locations in Lingen and Cologne. XERVON Wind is part of the XERVON Group and belongs, therefore, to REMONDIS Maintenance & Services. Find out more at www.xervon-wind.de/en
RE:VIEWS: ‘Industry 4.0’ – that sounds like digitisation and industrial production.
Maik Schlapmann: That’s exactly what it is. The world of servicing and maintenance work is changing – and this is true in the wind energy sector as well. Tools such as digitisation, automation, artificial intelligence and data management are becoming more and more important. We want to lead the way here. Optimising processes, driving forward efficiency, making the most of opportunities. This is not just in keeping with the times but also a question of sustainability. Maintaining wind turbines remotely, for example, means more green electricity, and datadriven materials management conserves natural resources. Large wind farms with 10 MW wind turbines can no longer be seen as a simple collection of windmills. These farms are power stations and their requirements are most certainly comparable to those of industrial production plants.
RE:VIEWS: What big challenges are on your radar at the moment?
Tobias Wilming: As far as XERVON Wind’s range of services is concerned, we are currently in the process of strengthening our wind turbine installation activities – in add-ition to our servicing and maintenance work. At the same time, we are continuing to grow our workforce and drive forward collaboration within the group. Our goal here is to pool our various fields of expertise and benefit from each other’s strengths – something that will benefit our customers of course. We began collaborating with our REMONDIS sister company, Rhenus Logistics, last year. They supply offshore wind farms, taking materials and crews to the platforms, and we’re looking to further intensify this cooperation.
Using wind to generate electricity produces neither carbon emissions nor pollutants.
RE:VIEWS: How do you believe XERVON Wind will develop this year*? What expectations do you have as far as its operations are concerned?
Maik Schlapmann: 2022 will be our first full year of business and XERVON Wind is in a good position to get its operations well and truly started. Over the next few months, we are intending to significantly expand our onshore maintenance work. What’s more, we also have several large offshore projects in the pipeline that will see our teams of engineers spending long periods of time on a ship at sea. Every project will help XERVON Wind to further strengthen its position on the market as actions always speak louder than words.
Many thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Here’s wishing the company continued success for the future.
Image credits: images 1, 3: Adobe Stock: Fokke Baarssen; image 2: REMONDIS