The challenge of staying united while being apart

Siemens Gamesa workers adapt to coronavirus situation

Hamburg / 30 April 2020

What happens when apparently nothing is the way it was? After days, weeks or even months of restrictions caused by the coronavirus, it becomes more and more important to keep the business running. After all, the pandemic does not change the fact that nacelles and rotor blades need to be produced and delivered, installations of new turbines have been scheduled or already installed turbines need to be serviced in order to continue producing electricity. How do your Siemens Gamesa employees around the world manage to do this? We asked some of them…

Head of Corporate Communications EMEA

Robert Bryce, Head of Onshore Operations in the North Europe and Middle East region said: “Our Service business keeps operating. I’d like to thank everyone out there on the wind farms, keeping everything running. It’s great to see how we support each other, in the field, in engineering, supply chain and in the warehouses. Of course, it might become more difficult to cover if the lock-down will continue. So we need to come up with solutions especially when it comes to childcare".

"The crisis has brought us stronger together," says Thomas Lehmann, Head of Onshore Service in Germany. "We help each other where we can. So far, we have been quite successful fulfilling our obligations. Not everywhere we are on schedule but given the situation we can be really proud of our teams. The Onshore service works in fixed teams of two. Thanks to good training, the teams can handle the majority of all tasks on their own without additional support.”

"It is better when our urgent support is not required", is how Dennis Elsberg describes this part of his job as Head of Quality Management and Health & Safety for Service in the Northern European region. But Dennis and his colleagues from the different HSE (Health, Safety, Environment) departments are very much present at the moment. Daily coordination calls, updates on new regulations, reports on any suspicious cases, decisions on measures from various countries. "We have our hands full. But the cooperation is great. Everyone helps where they can. It's very motivating in these difficult times."

For the installation of the turbines produced, travel restrictions are a challenge
Production is also continuing at most of the plants worldwide. "I am very proud of our team," says Anton Bak, who heads the Cuxhaven plant. "The colleagues come to the plant every day and keep the shop running. Every single one of them deserves our respect."

Right at the beginning of the crisis, numerous measures were taken to enable continued operation in the production facilities: Colleagues work in fixed teams,  keeping the social distance of 1,5 m from each other, using separate entries/exits, the canteen was closed, a take-away service provided and more cleaning and disinfection cycles of workstations and tools are carried out – to name just a few.”

When COVID-19 infections are detected in factory workers, the safety protocol is immediately applied. This can even lead to the temporary closure of the production facility to take precautions such as disinfecting materials and tools. "Guaranteeing that our plants are a safe workplace for our colleagues is our top priority right now. This needs to be balanced, of course, with keeping the factories running to avoid major delays in production. We have been very successful from a commercial point of view in the past quarters and our customers rely on us to deliver,” says Alberto Rojas, Onshore Chief Operating Officer. “Staying safe and minimizing disruptions has to be a joint effort to ensure the long-term success of Siemens Gamesa."

For the installation of the turbines produced, travel restrictions in particular pose a challenge as teams come together from different countries. “We have to come up with increasingly creative solutions and a mentality of making things happen" says Markus Wiemann, Head Onshore Projects in the NEME region. "We are in contact with Service and Offshore to use technicians. We also team up with our partners from GWS, Fairwind and Windhoist to find solutions. Only thinking cross functional and with teamwork we will succeed. This is more important than ever in a crisis." 

Sharing the concerns of employee safety and ongoing business needs, whether it’s a message from Leadership or HR, a critical protocol update from HSE, or providing quick access to ever-changing information our employees need, the Communications team keeps information flowing. Coordination across time zones, business units, and departments continues around the clock. Night and day be assured that someone somewhere is working to deliver information to you.

Communications Consultant, Sanne Frimor Petersen was tasked early on with the global coordination of HSE COVID-19 communications. The past weeks have brought many additional tasks to this role. Work/life balance has taken on new meaning for Sanne and her family. With mom and dad both working from home, their two young daughters are learning what it means to have them home, but sometimes unavailable.  “We no longer leave home to go to work. We don’t leave work to go home. Instead, we do our best to maintain some sense of home life while getting all the necessary work done.” Sanne said that as a couple, they must compare daily meeting schedules to help balance childcare responsibilities with the demands from work.

Alexandre Coron, employee of maintenance tech

The work from home opportunities provided by the company’s HR regulations on working from home helped prepare the communications team for this new reality, but it doesn’t come without challenges. Ben Hunt, Head of Global Corporate Affairs, shared his thoughts. “I´ve spent quite a lot of my career working remotely or at home, but never in these circumstances and never with the whole team in lockdown like this. So there´s really no playbook for this type of situation. My role is to really to link the team to senior management, providing information both ways and making sure the company´s communication is aligned and coordinated. So there are a lot of calls at different and strange times of the day. What you need to be successful is a team that is flexible and willing to go the extra mile to solve each other´s problems and challenges. We´ve had our hiccups for sure, but overall it´s going well and I´m proud of the work the team is doing. These are tough times, but really I think it´s bringing us all closer together, and we´ll be stronger as a result of this.” 

As unusual and challenging as the situation is - it is important to look ahead. Even if we can hardly imagine it at the moment, the corona crisis will pass. Working for Siemens Gamesa means also working in a growing industry. The wind turbines are built to last for decades. And even in the crisis, the motto of Siemens Gamesa remains: We make real what matters - clean energy for generations to come.


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