With 142 operational wind turbines in Ireland Siemens has built up a significant service presence across the island. Gary O’Callaghan and his Energy Services team outline their service offering and look to a future that will see significant growth.
Delivering top quality customer service is a hugely significant part of our business strategy at Siemens. Our business strategy is driven by the macroeconomic environment in which our customers operate and is also underpinned by our value system which is defined by three words: “Responsible”, “Excellent” and “Innovative”.
Taking each of these values in turn and starting with “Responsible”. Over the past five years we in Siemens have put a lot of effort into becoming an industry benchmark in compliance and sustainability. Our Environmental, Health and Safety Programme known as ”Zero Harm” is a key element in our approach to acting responsibly. This means having Zero Accidents, Zero Incidents and Zero Harm. One might ask is Zero Harm achievable and realistic? We believe that it is and every day we aim to show leadership as we strive to achieve Zero Harm. Each and every member of our staff and contractors know that they are empowered to stop any job or task if they feel unsafe. Of course we have cost and deadline pressures, but we will not compromise on safety.
“Excellent” is the second value underpinning Siemens’ business strategy. Siemens is and will continue to be a strong, reliable partner through delivering excellent results. When we sign a service contract, we are making a five to 15, or even 20 year commitment. We need to be able to prove to our customers that we are around for the long term and that we will not hesitate in signing up to delivering top class service KPI results for the duration of the commitment. Siemens will never be the low cost option, we will never cut corners. We aim to provide our customers with a tangible competitive advantage and offer investors solid long-term returns. That is our value proposition over the lifetime of our partnership.
The strategic objective behind our third value, which is “Innovative”, is to be seen by our customers as a trusted advisor. To achieve this we constantly strive to increase our knowledge of our customers’ business and visibly demonstrate that Siemens adds value to their products and offerings.
We also have an innovative approach to the way we deliver service: we offer a flexible approach and choice of service contracts and we are innovative in our use of processes and systems to deliver high performance service. We recognise that when we deliver service to our customers, we are actually carrying out business on their behalf. The essence of a long-term partnership is trust and our history of technological leadership and service orientation make us the reliable partner of choice.
Siemens is a global leader in wind power products and solutions with a strong presence in Northern Europe and the USA. In the UK and Ireland, Siemens has 2.3GW of onshore wind turbines in operation and is growing strongly. In addition to selling turbines, we also offer turnkey projects including construction and electrical infrastructure.
In Ireland, Siemens has delivered two significant projects, the 82MW wind farm in Meentycat, Co Donegal, which is Ireland’s largest operating wind farm and Coomacheo wind farm in the Southwest. Meentycat was built in 2003-2004 and has seen its first five years of operation completed. The project has a large service requirement and the wind farm owner has continued to renew service contracts with Siemens which reflects the success Siemens has had in keeping availability levels high.
One of Siemens’ key strengths is security. Solid, long term relationships have been the hallmark of our business for over 150 years. With the current turmoil in the global marketplace, a growing number of wind turbine suppliers are facing financial difficulties. A company like Siemens who can guarantee to be there by the customers’ side long into the future really does help. This is particularly relevant for the project finance market where banks typically come in and finance the project for 15 years and they want the supply and service of the turbines for that period.
A second key area is technology confidence. Siemens invests heavily in R&D and due diligence before bringing any new product to market. An example of this is the new direct drive turbines which we launched to the market in 2010. It took 12 years to go from conception phase through the various models with different design options and coming up with a full-scale prototype in 2009 for installation, before coming to market. The result is that we now have seven new products in the direct drive range that are tried, tested and trusted.
One of the areas that sets Siemens apart is a brand name that is recognised on the high street. Consequently community engagement is important for us. During the project execution phase we look closely at how the project will impact on the local community. There are two aspects to this. Firstly we want to maintain our brand reputation. Secondly, we want to support the development of the local community. If you build a wind farm in a rural community it will be part of that community for many years. Therefore we see ourselves becoming part of the fabric of that community, and we focus on how we can contribute to that community for example, through education programmes in local schools and participating in local recruitment fairs.
Our vision for service at Siemens is to be the clear number one in the industry, not just in renewable energy, but across the entire energy conversion chain. The renewables industry faces many challenges and from a Siemens’ perspective we have to be ready to help and give guidance to our clients and developers as they add the gigawatts to the grid. To achieve this, not only do we need to have the right technology supported by industry leading remote diagnostics and monitoring but also we need highly competent staff. People are key at all levels, from site technicians to senior engineers and project managers. Consequently we seek to attract and recruit high performers through our work with educational centres and by using competency based interview techniques during our selection process. By delivering some of the highest standards of training, supported by sustainable personal competency development plans, we are able to deliver the flexible and dynamic approach to service that our clients require and expect.
Our market leading remote monitoring and diagnostic equipment sets the benchmark for the industry. This high level of diagnostic capability leads to much lower unscheduled downtime as potential issues become apparent usually before any downtime occurs. Repairs can then be scheduled with realistic staffing plans, weather reviews, equipment and components all in place before any downtime occurs.
I have 16 years of experience in working in the renewables industry and during that time the technology has changed considerably and I see no reason to suspect that the future will be any different. When I first joined Siemens in 2007, I put plans in place that would see higher level skills capability within Siemens in Ireland. This includes areas like Health, Safety and Environment, Engineering, Project Management and Quality Assurance so that we could locally face the challenges of the rapid growth and changing technology.
This approach has worked extremely well, not only by delivering the high levels of availability across our entire fleet. It also helps Siemens to better understand our customers’ requirements and their challenges.
The years ahead will see more changes: different contract types – from basic service agreements to various levels of risk sharing – will be common. Yield based availability as well as time based availability will continue to be offered. Technology will continue to become more sophisticated, grid integration will become more difficult, and supply chain management will be more challenging. Due to the choices and decisions that Siemens have already taken, we are very well placed to help all our customers and indeed the industry to master these challenges.
Using the depth of knowledge within our global service organisation, we will continue to push down the price per megawatt for service through lean practices. We will continue to increase the reliability and availability of our turbines, continue to develop and offer value adding service contracts and ensure that the target of “Zero Harm” is achieved.
Siemens Energy Services operate in a number of locations throughout the country with our most significant presence based out of our offices in Letterkenny, Co Donegal. Delivering safe, green and high yield energy to the community means having the right skilled and competent resources to achieve this. The Siemens Energy Service team comprises 45 people, 38 of which are turbine specialists working for and based at customer wind farms. Therefore, our customers can rely on the skilled and competent workforce they need.
Our Operations Team are involved not just in the operational lifetime of the wind farm but also from the pre-installation and throughout the build phase, thereby ensuring a smooth transition into generation.
There are obvious challenges with renewable energy sources, for example, installing cutting edge technology in extreme locations, often which are prone to extreme weather conditions. Local technical capability and detailed pre-planning is key to maintaining these energy sources efficiently. Our 24/7 remote monitoring service means quick response times, typically less than an hour, to the majority of turbine events. Detailed planning, in partnership with our customers, ensures that their expectations are met and outcomes are aligned and achieved. For Siemens, service excellence is more than a promise, it is actually delivered every day on our customers wind farms across the country.
Wind Power is a new industry with constantly evolving challenges. A developing theme is how the industry approaches the topic of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). From the Siemens perspective we see the challenges as threefold. The first is promoting a positive health and safety culture and embedding that culture into the hearts and minds of our people. The second is encouraging our contractors to adopt the same attitude to EHS as our own staff. This means that on a Siemens site, the same standards are expected regardless of your status as contractor, sub contractor or Siemens employee. The third is anticipating our customers’ EHS needs and being proactive to meet their future needs. In our experience, we have found that the most effective approach is to work with our customers to develop a common EHS vision for each site.
While traditionally it was the turbine manufacturer who would have taken the lead from the customer in terms of EHS, we in Siemens see our role as setting the benchmark for EHS in the industry. We are heavily engaged in setting standards, policies and best practices in the industry through IWEA and would be regarded as leaders in both emergency response planning and turbine transportation safety. We work closely with the Emergency Services to prepare for emergency rescue scenarios on site. The goal of our “Zero Harm” philosophy is to ensure that every one of our staff and contractors goes home safely at the end of each working day. In addition to our own aspirations as a company, we are at the forefront in helping to shape the future of EHS in the industry for the common good of all stakeholders.