Maintaining The Infrastructure of the FutureWed, 02/21/2018 - 18:45
During the lifetime of a wind farm there are several elements that may fail, from huge external components, such as the turbine blades, to small and almost invisible elements like the atmospheric discharge system. If these elements are not repaired quickly, they might cause major economic losses due to production downtimes.
Having a local team able to perform reparations can be a game changer when the clock is ticking. Julio Ramírez, Managing Director of Mexión, which provides assessment and services for the inspection, rehabilitation and maintenance of wind turbine energy blades and other components, says this not only saves clients time but money, too.
“Mexión’s main strength resides in the fact that we are local, giving us a cost and time advantage. Being a local company, our working hours cost less than companies that must use expats for their activities. Likewise, being close to the client allows us to come to their facilities any time they need us.”
Although being economically and locally flexible are advantages, it is equally essential to have a team that is knowledgeable and experienced. Mexión believes it is well-positioned because its products and services are not limited to only one brand. “Mexión has worked with several manufacturers and materials on maintenance services for companies such as Acciona, Gamesa and Vestas. This has provided us with experience to solve any kind of problem the client may have, no matter the brand of turbine, blade, nacelle or any other component.”
In comparison, other companies provide maintenance services to only one manufacturing company. This is a safe short-term approach, since these companies get called more often due to their direct involvement with only one business, Ramírez says. “These companies are the first ones to be called during maintenance, even though their costs are higher and their services slower, since they have a strong partnership with the manufacturers.” Mexión, however, is looking at the long term by working with several companies. “We might be called less often but once the warranty expires we become the first option for wind farm owners because they know we have more
experience and can deploy the best practices of several companies.”
Having more itinerant activities has made it extremely important to have a wide client portfolio to keep the company running. With activities abroad, Mexión is not only supporting the business but also gathering more knowledge and experience, Ramírez says. “Although we are a midsized company, our reach extends to South America, in countries such as Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.” This jump outside Mexico was made easier due to the quality and training of the company’s technicians, who also have the GWO certification, he adds. “To work in wind farm locations it used to be enough to have a DC-3 certificate provided by the STPS. Now, every company needs to have a GWO certification. This has not only raised the requirements of the industry but also opened up more doors to us since that certification can also be used in other countries where we operate.”
Mexión’s long-term approach is not only applicable to its business activities but also to the development of the country’s industry. The company expects to help solve local problems that arise from time to time due to the lack of local design. “Wind farm elements are built to operate under conditions that do not significantly represent Mexico’s true weather environment. For example, a blade may be able to withstand certain velocity under laboratory conditions but the higher air density in Mexico as well as the turbulent winds in the country put stronger tensions into play, therefore making components prone to failure.”
To solve these kinds of problems, Mexión is working closely with local universities to support the development of human capital. “Mexión supports the la Universidad del Istmo in Oaxaca,” Ramírez says. “The university is creating a strong department for renewable energies and has started to work on the design of complex parts for wind farms. Although the university’s activities in the field are just starting, we see it as a first step that could bring much more attractive opportunities later on.”