Today, Gerrit Jan (49) is busy working at a height of 100m on a Senvion turbine near Zeewolde. In his pragmatic way he muses: 'In point of fact, you have no sensation of height because the nacelle doesn't have windows'. He has always been interested in technology, and after completing his studies in electronics and gaining some practical experience in various jobs, he began working at Certion in 2007. ' I have been able to widen my experience working at heights as a maintenance mechanic, and thanks to all the courses and documentation I now have a knowledge of all the various types of turbine'.
The freedom that appeals to me
Explaining his motivation, he says: 'It is the freedom in particular that appeals to me'. Gerrit Jan travels across the Netherlands – and sometimes Belgium – every day. 'Certion always sets out the work planning for the next week and we, as mechanics, have to fulfil it, for which we may need to liaise with the turbine owner. There are customers with whom we maintain contact by telephone only, while with others we may share a cup of coffee. On the whole, I am my own man, although I always work with another mechanic. That is for practical reasons, but is also essential for safety; after all, you are reliant on one another in a turbine'.
Between millimetre and sledge hammer
'You simply need to take to the job. I climb a mast to access a nacelle for maintenance work such as the lubrication of mechanical parts and the checking of cooling systems almost every day. It may seem a bit monotonous at times', Gerrit Jan reflects, 'but I find there is enough variation in my work, and I just love my job. There are so many differences in terms of turbines, minor or major servicing and the nature of the job that you never know what you’re going to find. On one occasion you may have to assemble a part with millimetre precision, and another time you might need a sledge hammer to undo a part'.
Maintenance is key to everything
Although these days much of the turbine technology can be managed via software and from a distance, Gerrit Jan knows that the human eye and physical maintenance twice a year will always be needed: 'In many cases you need to really see, feel or hear how a gearbox is functioning. I think that the wind turbine stock that we manage is in good repair, which only goes to show that proper maintenance is key to any well-operating turbine. After all, we all want these windmills to operate as efficiently as possible'.