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Global
21
June 2024

Great proximity to the customer and a passion for the cause

ENERCON started its own service activities shortly after the company was founded 40 years ago. From the pioneering phase, Service was continuously expanded and made more professional, with maintenance and repair of the company’s own wind turbines being developed into an independent business area. Today, ENERCON Service is one of the leading service organisations in the wind energy sector with a decentralised network spanning 33 countries and over 5,000 employees. It still benefits from the experience and start-up mentality from its early years even today.

The ENERCON Service is one of the best service organisations of the wind industry.

Professional service is essential for onshore wind farm owners and operators. Without reliable service and maintenance, without a reliable supply of spare parts and a rapid response to unforeseen faults, it is not possible to achieve reliable wind turbine operation and calculable yields. It is hard to imagine today that in the early years of the wind energy sector, service for installed wind turbines was often not organised at all and maintenance was carried out by the manufacturer for customers more or less in passing.

‘When I started at ENERCON in 1988, there was no such thing as “Service”,’ says Michael Hoelscher, who was a member of ENERCON Service Management for many years and is today a member of the Global Service Management Team. ‘ENERCON had only been founded four years earlier and was still selling geared turbines such as the E-15 or E-17 at the time. “Service” – that was just a group of volunteers who wanted to get out of production for a while. But production always had priority. Service calls were often handled on top.’

Service veterans Michael Hoelscher (from left) and Jann Janssen in dialogue with group spokesman Felix Rehwald.

Jann Janssen was part of the first ENERCON Service team that was set up in 1990. Today he is an expert for site support in Project Management and assists instructors on ENERCON construction sites. He has a similar recollection of the informal early years: ‘If a wind turbine was down somewhere, the customer called Aurich. SCADA didn’t exist yet, customers had to let us know about any issues. If something came up, we drove out.’

Onboarding of new Service colleagues took place in Production, recalls Stephan Menzel, who started as a service technician at ENERCON in 1996. Today, he is part of the team in the After Sales Center of Excellence in the CNE region. ‘Before we were allowed to drive out to customers’ facilities, we had done everything ourselves once in Production, from assembling the machine houses to laminating rotor blades and winding generators through to building electrical cabinets,’ he says, looking back.

Worked at ENERCON Service in the early years (from left): Stephan Menzel, Volker Kendziorra and Hartmut Beckering.

After this training, newcomers were assigned to a more experienced colleague, adds Hartmut Beckering, who also began his career at ENERCON as a service technician in 1996. Today he is Technical Project Manager in Global Service and responsible among other things for the EP3 platform. ‘We went out with our experienced colleague for a while. As a result, there was a direct transfer of know-how and we quickly familiarised ourselves with the subject.’ Experts from Production or Research and Development also provided support with special topics. ‘These joint assignments with specialists from other divisions also provided us with a great deal of valuable expertise’, recalls Stephan Menzel.

This close dialogue has always been maintained and, according to Michael Hoelscher, still provides ENERCON with advantages even today: ‘ENERCON Service is much better interconnected with development than any other company. As a result, there was direct feedback from the field to Engineering right from the start. Furthermore, we used the findings in the field to determine what had to be carried out during maintenance even in those days. Service was always involved in the development and design process for new wind turbines. Findings from our hands-on service went directly into the development process.’

Over the years, the service has been continuously expanded and professionalised.

Hartmut Beckering takes a similar view: ‘The close links to the engineers that we have maintained in Service from the very beginning and which still exist today are one of our greatest strengths. Thanks to our close links, our Service has the best understanding of wind turbine technology. Our customers are therefore in better hands with ENERCON Service than with any other service provider.’

However, it took some time for such a strong organisation to develop. With the boom in wind energy, ENERCON grew rapidly – both in Germany and internationally. In addition to maintenance and repair, Service also provided support during installation, commissioning and grid connection. ‘Experienced Service colleagues were sent abroad to help build up the service network there and share their know-how’, says Stephan Menzel: ‘It was quite common for someone to be travelling all over the world.’ Service also grew during this phase and its radius became ever larger. For ENERCON owner, Dr Aloys Wobben, the time had come to reorganise Service.

ENERCON Service has been successively expanded into a global network.

The first ENERCON Service companies were founded from 1996, laying the foundation for the decentralised network that was established over the following years. Service national and Service international were created, together with a training department to organise the transfer of know-how more systematically – with inspection checklists for acceptance tests, maintenance cycles and training for foreign assignments. ‘These were all the first steps towards the further development and professionalisation of the organisation,’ says Jann Janssen.

Another important factor for the success of ENERCON Service was the ENERCON PartnerKonzept (EPK) that was created as part of the market launch of the E-40. ‘In the early days, no invoices were written in the Service department,’ reports Volker Kendziorra, Managing Director of ENERCON Service for many years and now Senior Advisor Service to the ENERCON CCO. ‘Aloys Wobben didn’t want his customers to be asked to pay for maintenance and repairs. Although the first geared wind turbines had a maintenance contract, customers didn’t pay for it.’ However, as the fleet grew, so did the service costs, so that eventually Service started sending out ‘proforma invoices’ after a service call. The customers were informed that maintenance had been carried out for which an amount X should have been charged. They were expected to realise that service also costs money. ‘Gradually more and more customers paid voluntarily and we started to generate serious revenue from service,’ says Volker Kendziorra.

One of the strengths of ENERCON Service has always been to be on site quickly when service is required.

With the launch of the E-40 and the switch to the gearless technology, the question as to the financing of the projects suddenly arose. Banks asked about the reliability of the technology, as there was no experience with it at that time. ‘That lead to the “birth” of the EPK, so to speak’, says Volker Kendziorra. ‘Aloys Wobben was so convinced of the direct drive concept that he was prepared to go the extra mile and offer customers all-inclusive protection with an availability guarantee. With the EPK, customers had no worries, could prove to their bank that the risks were covered and received their project financing.’

The EPK was an absolute success for many years. The EPK contract met the needs of most customers and ensured steady income in Service as the wind turbine fleet grew. ‘The importance of the EPK was extreme’, recalls Volker Kendziorra. ‘The key factor here was that we didn’t earn money from the customer’s wind turbine breaking down, but from the fact that it was running! True to the motto: Customer and ENERCON in one boat, working together for the common success.’

Even though 80 per cent of Service customers still have an EPK contract today, individual needs are increasing. This is taken into consideration when structuring the Service contracts, says Volker Kendziorra: ‘For example, there are the EPK II and EPK III contracts which exclude certain aspects such as logistics, crane costs or major components replacement. For some customers, modularisation goes even further. We then conclude Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or Service Support Agreements (SSAs) with them, offer the supply of spare parts or training for their own Service teams.’

The further development of the Service portfolio is in line with the ENERCON strategy of putting the focus on the customer. ‘If customers want to customise their service package, we as a service provider need to define and offer new individual products – which we do. We are addressing these challenges, and will continue to do so in the coming years, when topics such as digitalisation, documentation, yield-oriented availability or ensuring the supply of spare parts over a service life of 25 or 30 years start to play a greater role’, says Volker Kendziorra.

ENERCON service team at work in the wind farm.

The Service veterans describe the enthusiastic atmosphere that existed in Service right from the start as ‘remarkable’. ‘There was a real spirit of optimism,’ says Stephan Menzel. ‘We were a team, everyone was there for each other.’ Adds Hartmut Beckering, ‘The pioneering spirit was enormous! There was an incredible sense of identification with the cause and with the company. If you didn’t experience this time for yourself, it’s difficult to understand the passion with which colleagues worked.’

‘The colleagues felt absolutely committed to the customers and the wind turbines for which they were responsible. You immediately realised that everyone was doing the job with real conviction’, says Jann Janssen. Hartmut Beckering adds: ‘Our customers knew that too. One piece of feedback I once received from an operator after we had fixed a problem with his wind turbine is very telling. He was delighted with how quickly we had got his wind turbine up and running again and commented approvingly: “My wind turbine is being looked after better than my wife in hospital!”’

Jann Janssen believes that ENERCON Service has retained this spirit even to this day. ‘Our service has always been characterised by proximity to the customer and speed. That is something from which our customers still benefit greatly even today.’ Michael Hoelscher describes how this looks from the customer’s perspective: ‘Although ENERCON sold products – wind turbines – customers always thought of them as “ENERCON turbines”. Most customers were fully aware that the wind turbines were being looked after by the ENERCON team as if they were their own. We often proved this by knowing that something was wrong and taking action even before the customer even noticed it.’ For Stephan Menzel, the attitude of his colleagues towards their work is still a unique selling point today: ‘Being convinced of what we do. Passionate about the cause. This attitude and customer focus are firmly anchored in our DNA – not just in Service, but at ENERCON in general.’

Your contact for further questions:

Felix Rehwald

Head of Corporate Communications / Spokesperson

Dreekamp 5
26605 Aurich
Germany

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This is ENERCON

As a pioneer of wind energy technology and a committed supporter of the energy transition, we have specialised in developing, producing, selling and servicing onshore wind turbines. Pursuing our mission of ‘Energy for the world’, we have been championing sustainable energy generation from onshore wind since 1984. Thanks to our innovative wind turbine technology, high quality standards and many years of experience, we are one of the industry’s leading manufacturers anywhere in the world.

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