Collaboration as KPI for global success in construction
Published on 25th of February 2021
Project Manager, NCE Marketing & Communication
Back in Q4 2018 Vestas received the order of 41 V117-3.45 MW to be delivered to South Africa, Oyster Bay, from Enel Green Power. The wind project is located in Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape province and will host 41 V117-3.45 MW turbines delivered in 3.6 MW Power Optimised Mode at a 91.5-meter hub height. On 25th of August the first turbine since 2016 was installed.
Several challenges arose during the COVID-19 Pandemic, from delays on main components to delays on Site Parts to a complete national lockdown of 10 weeks in South Africa. During this time, we have managed to plan the project in such a way to keep the project going with delivering towers and blades and pre-installing towers up to date. The last offloading was done on the 5th of October. This work up front will provide the construction with a lot of flexibility going forward for installing the remainder of the total 41 turbines.
Due to the COVID-19 we have not managed to get any EU personnel into South Africa apart from one: the Site Manager, who is a Portuguese South African National. The team has been mainly performing the works on site with our local colleagues, who have been hired for the projects, whom are getting support from our EU colleagues remotely. Definitely a challenging situation.
Some months later in October, we were able to bring in colleagues from all over Europe for commissioning the turbines at this project.
Vestas Northern & Central Europe Service Management asked Service Technicians for volunteering to help out in South Africa. And in total around 20 colleagues joined in October coming from Denmark, Romania, Germany and The Netherlands.
It was quite a challenge to get everything settled and in place, e.g. Corona testing in time. Every airport, all security first thing asked was the negative corona test result. Flights have been very long, but at no time the colleagues felt uncomfortable or unsafe.
A local colleague picked the team up at the airport in Port Elizabeth and also managed to get them their rental cars. Driving first time left-handed was the first challenge for the colleagues. The team really had to get used to the left-hand traffic as well as getting used to the cows occupying the roads.
How does a day at site look like?
"We get up early in the morning, breakfast at 5.30 am, driving to the site at 6.00 am. At 7.00 am we have our Daily Meeting, where temperature of all colleagues is taken and where all are reminded of the Safety Rules as well as site specific risks, such as spiders and snakes.”, the colleagues explained. We are working Monday to Saturday, commissioning and training in rotation. Even though, we have colleagues from all over the world working with us on this project, communication is not an issue at all.”
The team also told, if the weather allows, they go to the beach or into the city after work.
As the colleagues work from Monday to Saturday, they only have the Sunday for sightseeing. At the first weekend of the German colleagues, Dennis and Lars did bungee jumping. Something that you will never forget. On another Sunday the group went on a safari in the ADDO Elephant National Park. The pictures cannot show how interesting, impressive and unforgettable this day was.
Talking about fun at the weekend and all the great experiences you have, when working abroad, it is worth mentioning, that it is dangerous here. The team is really happy, that the local colleagues told them how to behave and act, e.g. not driving or walking through the city at night on their own. Crime rate is really high and of course people recognise that the team is coming from abroad. So they always need to be careful.
All colleagues agreed, that working for Vestas in other countries brings of course a lot of advantages, like getting to know other colleagues, seeing different countries, but not being with the family and friends is also sometimes quite hard. Especially in these days, where the families at home have to find work arounds due to all the Corona restrictions and regulations. But staying in touch with WhatsApp and Skype makes it easier.
While working abroad, you get to know a lot of different colleagues, suppliers, sub-contractors, a lot different stories of lives, experiences, cultures, religions and traditions, but what brings us all together is the commitment to create a greener future for our children.
"We do not even need to elaborate on Passion, as this speaks for itself. The entire team is incredibly committed to the projects and showing just exactly how much Passion they have for Vestas and the work they do!”, states Stijn du Bois, Project Manager.