In this 21st-century age of growing skepticism, agendas, and distrust, it’s often refreshing to hear a voice that cuts through all the noise and tells it like it is.
It may even seem like a novel concept, but straight-talk and truth have an almost uncanny way of building trust.
For Airway Services Inc., a full-service provider of operations, repair, maintenance, and staffing services for the utility-scale wind energy industry, that kind of transparency is far from a novel concept. It’s one of the core values influencing how they do business.
Founded in 2009 in response to the rapidly increasing demand for wind energy service providers during the exponential growth of the U.S. wind energy industry, the young company has grown in step with the industry and now serves customers in 41 states, three provinces in Canada, Puerto Rico, Chile, and Brazil.
That growth is due in large part to the company’s commitment to customer service. This is evidenced by its professionalism and ethical dealings with customers, as well as through employing best practices and maintaining a high level of proficiency in the services they offer.
“We’re very transparent with our customer,” said Chase Hord, CEO of Airway Services. “If we tell them we can do something, we do it. If we say we can’t, it means that we don’t have the technical pool to do so.”
Customers, Hord said, appreciate that brand of honesty, which leads to a solid reputation within the wind service community.
“If we mess something up, we’re the first ones to raise our hands and say ‘let’s make sure we learn from this experience,’” Hord said. “Then we’ll all sit down and see where our lessons learned are and move forward in a positive direction.”
According to Hord, it’s easy in the wind industry to over-commit to a project. This can often lead to inferior service. Considering the tight-knit, family nature of the O&M segment of the industry, having that kind of reputation can be costly.
While professionalism and ethical dealings with customers are priorities for the company, they are only part of its operating philosophy.
Complementing these elements is Airway Services’ strong commitment to providing its customers with the highest quality services possible. The company is able to achieve this level of quality due to the extensive knowledge and experience of its technical staff. Additionally, the company uses a Best Practices approach to maintaining a high-level of quality and workmanship in the services it offers.
With its field technician staff of around 185 — more than 92 percent of its total workforce — Airway Services has the capabilities, knowledge, and expertise to handle a wide range of needs sought by wind farm owner-operators and other industry stakeholders. Airway Services maintains its technical expertise throughout all areas of the O&M market segment through ongoing training, and the hiring of pre-qualified personnel.
Service areas within the Airway Services portfolio include turbine inspection, O&M tasks, warranty support, preventative maintenance, major component changeouts, on-demand staffing (technical and general labor), construction support, and administrative/professional support. (For a complete list of services, see the table accompanying this article.)
Airway Services’ primary concern in its daily operations is the safety of its employees and the people around them — above all else. Its goal is to have zero incidents every day technicians are out in the field. The commitment to that goal is evidenced by measures the company takes to emphasize and encourage a strong safety culture throughout its ranks.
Those measures include an extensive, ongoing safety training program intended to maintain a safety-first attitude in the minds of its employees — to the point where it’s second nature. Additionally, the company utilizes the latest safety technology, and evaluates its safety program and procedures on a perpetual basis.
Regarding the future for the San Angelo, Texas-based company, Hord expects the O&M market to grow steadily in the years ahead, as wind farm owner-operators continue to re-think and re-structure their O&M strategies.
While some owner-operators choose to self-staff and others choose to use the OEMs for sites under warranty, a different approach may be on the horizon.
“In the next couple of years, I think you’re going to see a lot of the service providers take more of a blended approach to the business,” Hord said. “You’re going to see owners try to skeleton-staff their sites and run more of a leaner machine than what’s been done in the past.”
If that’s the case, demand for service providers will likely increase, leading to more growth in the segment, and more opportunities for Airway Services to build even further on its reputation as a safe, honest, provider of high-quality services.
AIRWAY SERVICES INC. SERVICE PORTFOLIO
PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE AND INSPECTION
• Component inspection
• Fluid level inspection
• Oil replacement and filter change
• Cleaning inspection and physical inspection
• Tower cleaning and punch-list services
WARRANTY SUPPORT SERVICES
• Coordination of wind turbine generator replacement including:
• Disassembly of nacelle
• Generator replacement
• Nacelle reassembly
• Crane path optimization and final completion of generator replacements
• Perform inspections on all incoming components
• Provide alignment of generator/gearbox couplings to OEM specifications
• Perform construction, final walk-down and end-of-warranty inspections
SCHEDULED PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE (PM)
• Servicing the Turbine reoccurring maintenance program including:
• Hydraulic torque and tensioning
• Base tower and structural components
• Up tower mechanical components
• Perform tower cleaning and PM punch-list services
• Supply technical PM on demand site support or independent staffing
ON-DEMAND STAFFING & LABOR SUPPORT TECHNICAL
• O&M Technicians
• Health & Safety
• Wind Turbine Technicians
PROFESSIONAL AND MAINTENANCE
• Project Management
• Spare Parts Procurement
• Health & Safety Management
INSTALLATION AND GENERAL CONSTRUCTION SUPPORT
• Torque & Tensioning
• Final Cleanup
• Project Punch-List
• Project Walk-down
OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE
• Preventative (PM)
• Field Services
• Modifications & Upgrades
• Operations and Asset Management
• Systems Integration
• Field Services
• Warranty Services
• Out of Warranty Inspections
• Parts Changeout & Repair
• Gearbox Diagnostic
• Bearing Replacement
• Hydraulic System Inspection & Repair
• Rotor Removal
• Yaw Motor Repair & Replacement
• Laser Alignment
• Gearbox Removal/Installation
• Gearbox Alignment
• Component Inspection & Replacement
• Platform Blade Repair
• Blade Installation
• Blade Removal
• Project Management
• Support Technicians
• Safety Training