Global spend on operation and maintenance for onshore and offshore wind services is $3.58bn per year for minors and non-tech materials. And as the number of turbine fleets being installed increases year-on-year, so does the size and importance of the aftermarket experience.
The wind aftermarket is crucial to the overall success and growth of the wind industry: it supports the maintenance, repair and enhancement of wind turbines and their related infrastructure.
Casper Algren, CCO of Covento (pictured right) — a Vestas-owned spare parts retailer — believes the performance of aftermarket care in the wind industry has been hindered up until now by a lack of efficiency, transparency and digitalisation in the procurement process.
Covento identified these barriers by investigating the end-to-end customer experience when buying spare parts from Vestas. The investigation involved customer interviews and extensive market analysis, and found that the purchasing process involved six departments, seven people and took 21 days. “That might be okay for complex sales,” Algren says, “but not for standard spare parts.”
Speaking to Windpower Monthly, Algren reveals how its data-driven platform can transform a three-week procurement process into 60 seconds.
Fewer secrets, more standardisation
The wind industry has historically been very protective and secretive about the parts used in their turbines. While Algren agrees that that is how it should be for strategic, IP-protected units, he believes it’s unnecessary for standard parts. The recent industry shift towards standardisation will allow buyers to find standard components more easily.
Covento’s investigation revealed that customers lacked basic online shopping features such as product images, stock availability, prices, shipping costs and delivery times. Parts often had multiple unique ID numbers, making it challenging for buyers to find what they needed. And customers also spent significant time managing and sourcing from a large number of suppliers, often for minor components.
Data mapping to empower buyers
In its efforts to streamline the procurement process Covento has developed a platform which makes it easier to both identify and buy spare parts.
Data mapping played a crucial role in the platform’s development.
Covento’s data mapping solution benefits its suppliers because it ensures that all products are listed in a standardised template on the website, making product information consistent and easy to find. One Covento customer, Ruben Dijksta from Iver Wind, remarked on the website layout, describing it as “very user friendly”.
Whether it's a generic description or any ID number that a buyer has on hand, Covento’s data system means that it can access all relevant products from all of its suppliers. “We've developed a robust solution that lets buyers search for parts using any available information,” Algren summarises.
The consolidation of suppliers is something that Dijksta particularly appreciates: "Due to the fact that there are multiple suppliers for this specific branch working with Covento, it’s a convenience to have it all in one place."
Buyers also benefit from Covento’s targeted electrical assortment approach. Its research revealed that the demand for electrical spare parts peaks during Autumn and Winter, and to accommodate this trend the retailer has focused on providing a comprehensive selection of electrical components precisely when buyers need them most.
“Electrical spare parts constitute a substantial 23% of Covento's assortment,” says Algren. “This strategy minimises downtime, ensures reliable energy production, and saves valuable time and resources for our users.”
Covento’s future plans are focused on the continuous improvement of the efficiency of the wind aftermarket. To that end, the retailer wants to focus on collaboration: “Imagine all the players in the spare parts game communicating effortlessly,” says Algren. To make that a reality, the retailer is working closely with OEMs and suppliers to ensure the platform keeps evolving to meet the needs and standards of the industry.
Part of Covento’s plans also involve the enhancement of the platform’s digitalisation: “Think smarter systems that can predict maintenance needs, real-time monitoring, and even more advanced data mapping. This means less guesswork and more efficient operations for those in the field.” says Algren.
The retailer’s ultimate goal, though, is to become a “one-stop-shop” for the global wind energy industry, which it hopes to do by expanding both the range of spare parts it sells and the geographical range of markets it sells into.
For many wind professionals the procurement process is cumbersome and inefficient, and the global energy transition suffers as a result. The Covento platform addresses customers’ pain points within the wind aftermarket experience in order to streamline the process.
For more information about Covento’s offering, including its electrical assortment, click here.