Flexibility is vital to success in wind energy production. Deutsche Windtechnik's chairman Matthias Brandt explains how his company tackles a rapidly expanding market with the agility of a medium-sized business.
Domestic companies face great challenges in a globalised world. Service providers must rethink and adapt to the needs of their customers. It is not only capital and flow of goods that are being internationalised: in Europe, in particular, the energy supply and its generation are also constantly becoming more transnational.
"Affiliated groups and energy suppliers are operating on the entire European internal market," says Matthias Brandt, chairman of the board at Deutsche Windtechnik. "These customers endeavour to get the same service irrespective of the locality, and with very differing markets this almost inevitably creates challenges in view of the coordination as well as the costs."
The 44-year-old manages Germany's leading independent service provider in the wind energy business, which has more than 1,600 plants and 56 substations under contract. The Bremen-based firm faces the growing challenges of the affiliated groups with the flexibility of a medium-sized business. New structures are created or converted in the short term in order to offer maximum service and to respond to individual wishes.
An advantage can be seen here compared with large groups. According to Brandt, "Service companies today must be able to offer flexible solutions for their customers far more than in the past: individuality plays a huge role. You have to know the conditions on the individual markets very precisely."
A role model in this respect is the offshore market, which has tended to operate from a more European perspective than its onshore equivalent. Deutsche Windtechnik is expanding greatly in the offshore field. After many single orders in recent years, the first service contracts for substations and subsidiary works have been concluded. For example, the substation for the North Sea's Butendiek Wind Farm is a task for maintenance specialists. "Our many years of experience from the fields of onshore plant service and substation service benefit us, especially in the offshore field," explains Brandt. "We are able to break new ground while falling back on a vast pool of experience and know-how."
Contracts with the Nordsee-Ost and Dan Tysk offshore wind projects also put Deutsche Windtechnik in a favourable position in European waters: "We are experiencing strong growth in this field and consider ourselves well equipped for future orders," confirms the chairman.
Contracts in Poland, Denmark and Belgium have provided Deutsche Windtechnik with international experience that can now be put to use in other areas. Intensive negotiations are currently on the agenda with operators in Spain and the UK.
"In spite of the many possibilities we see in Europe, we will continue to be mindful of organic growth," says Brandt. "Operators from abroad are addressing us at the moment, because they know our business practices and our attitude. We always aim to respond to the wishes of our customers and to make suggestions for improvements in the necessary areas."
Deutsche Windtechnik maintains business contacts with partners in 28 countries, and its international business focuses upon the on and offshore service business, the spare parts trade, consultancy work and the used turbine trade. It has 390 employees, service contracts with 1,600 plants and stations throughout Germany, Poland and Denmark.