On the Job with Midwest Techs
Jeff IntermanWind Turbine Technician, Midwest USA
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I’ve been in wind for fifteen-and-a-half years. I climbed pretty much the whole time until we got the Climb Auto System. What I like about this automatic climber is that I feel it has made my career longer. I was getting to a point where the daily climb was beating me down. It was just wearing on things – my shoulders, my knees, everything. I feel blessed to have the Climb Auto System now because it means I can continue to work in this job. I definitely feel that now I can stay with this job until retirement.
More and more US wind technicians are discovering the benefits of the Climb Auto System. This single-technician ladder-mounted climber eliminates manual climbing, thus improving health, safety, productivity, and motivation. We asked wind technicians in the Midwest about their personal experiences with the automatic climber, and how it has impacted their everyday life and work. Meet Chuck, Jesse, Aaron, Jeff, and Travis, and learn more about their stories.
Climbing wind towers is exhausting work – a “young man’s game,” in the words of one technician. Wind farm operators thus face the risk of losing particularly valuable mid- and late-career employees who can no longer keep up with the physical challenges of the job. Both Jeff and Travis emphasize the career-extending benefits of the Climb Auto System, which eliminates the physical strain of ladder ascent. “I don’t think a little bit more money would be worth me leaving the automatic climber, because I don’t think I could do it anymore,” Jeff explains. Travis, for his part, says the Climb Auto System will allow him to stay on the job until retirement.
Manually climbing a wind tower is both exhausting and time consuming. It thus places a sharp limit on the number of towers a technician can service each day. Aaron emphasizes the productivity gains brought by the Climb Auto System. Rather than being “worn out after one or two climbs … [we now] get more accomplished throughout the day,” Aaron says. As an additional benefit, technicians arrive up tower in a fresher state – in Aaron’s words, “ready to get focused on the task hand.”
The Climb Auto System greatly enhances occupational safety for tower technicians. It not only prevents climbing injuries, but also reduces fatigue-related accidents. The Climb Auto System offers redundant Fall Protection Systems (for both, the technician and automatic climber), thus ensuring superior safety. While riding the automatic climber, technicians are independently secured through their personal Fall Arrester. “I feel very secure and safe with the Climb Auto System versus other systems that I’ve used. You’re 100% tied off,” Chuck explains.
The Climb Auto System can make it much easier to recruit new employees. Wind turbine technicians are hotly sought after in the US and acquiring talent can be challenging. Jesse, who has been in wind for almost four years, intends to stay at his current wind farm because of the Climb Auto System. “If somebody offered me $2 more an hour to work somewhere else, I wouldn’t take it,” he says. “My friends are jealous we have this system, and they always ask if we are hiring.”
The Climb Auto System can significantly boost employee motivation and job satisfaction. It not only reduces the wear and tear on workers’ bodies, but also augments productivity and the time devoted to the more rewarding aspects of the job. At the end of the day, technicians have a lot more energy to be active and enjoy life with their family. “Before, after three or four real climbs, I was pretty much shot for the day,” Chuck says. “Now, with the Climb Auto System, it’s not a big deal … You go home like [from] any other job.” He adds: “Everybody at our site loves the Climb Auto System. Everyone wants to work here because of it.”