In today’s offshore wind energy industry, optimisation of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) is greatly influenced by asset owners, turbine manufacturers and vessel owners.
As an O&M supplier, we aim to be part of the turnkey maintenance contract conversation, working closer with other key industry players to shift their focus to be more forward-thinking, agile and adaptive. Our goal is to keep turbines spinning every day, and we believe this should be the industry’s focus, too.
More certainty from maintenance contracts
Historically, the industry has planned in three-year sprints, because such timeframes have produced dramatic changes. This is understandably the result of a young, fast-growing industry. Ideally, we believe a longer-term approach would benefit the industry. Here, there are lessons to learn from the offshore Oil & Gas and automotive industries.
As with other industries that started with a big bang, certain components were initially seen as commodities. For example, in offshore Oil & Gas, equipment such as jack-up rigs were traditionally seen as a commodity. This was a challenge in times of supply shortages and unpredicted price increases.
In the current environment within offshore wind, we think there is good opportunity for O&M suppliers to take more responsibility through turnkey maintenance contracts to provide a basic, but necessary level of certainty. These contracts include contingency plans that consider uncontrollable factors such as weather to help bring more stability to the industry.
Practical experience of work at sea
The offshore wind industry’s rapid growth has seen a diverse group of people enter the industry in a way never seen before. Many newcomers hail from academic backgrounds, bringing new thinking and different approaches from those who have accumulated years of hands-on industry experience.
This mix of experience is obviously important for cost optimisation and safety, but there’s nothing quite like working on a nacelle 80 meters above the sea! It’s vital we still make best use of this practical, real-world experience.
Now, as the offshore industry matures, we see greater opportunity to develop specialised teams that are in the field, day in and day out, who are expert in all relevant procedures. Having such insights can allow asset managers to plan ahead, create guidelines, and share examples of failures to prevent them from occurring again.
It’s about harnessing more practical experience and coupling it with theoretical knowledge. This combination of ‘book smarts and street smarts’ might be the key to the industry paradigm shift that will significantly reduce costs, improve safety, and make processes more efficient throughout the value chain.
Simplifying with digital
When the industry took off over 20 years ago, it started at an inflated level, growing so fast that rapid investment was essential. This, of course, led to the emergence of many different suppliers, each responsible for their specialised area of O&M. But a suddenly large number of independent players meant a more complex playing field – a complexity that brought increased risks and higher costs. Now, not surprisingly, the offshore wind industry has moved on towards a greater focus on reducing costs.
To help spearhead this shift, we believe in encouraging a ‘unity of command’. One way to encourage unity is through the use of digital portals as real-time project platforms. These platforms foster stakeholder interaction and exchange up-to-date information so all parties can provide expertise in the decision-making process.
This type of digital tool takes the offshore industry into the 21st Century. Today, there’s no time for ‘project management via ring binders’!
Streamlined project management
This sort of thinking is essential to the ability of O&M suppliers, such as ZITON, to create turnkey maintenance contracts.
The time is right to take more responsibility and bring a greater degree of professionalism to offshore wind O&M. Careful project management based on proven processes and smart tools is key.
As the industry has evolved rapidly in recent years, we at ZITON have gained a lot of first-hand knowledge, while also developing effective tools. Combining these, we are confident we can help our partners avoid pitfalls.
Risk is inevitable in any industry – especially in offshore wind – but we believe there are much greater opportunities when you control the risk.
“In the current environment within offshore wind, we think there is good opportunity for O&M suppliers to take more responsibility through turnkey maintenance contracts to provide a basic, but necessary level of certainty.”
Thorsten Jalk, CEO, ZITON