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Goracon Windpower When it comes to wind power as a source of sustainable energy, great transformation is blowing in and Goracon Windpower Access Systems, L.P. kept abreast all of the sweeping changes

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corporate profile | wind

change is in the air

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Goracon Windpower Access Systems, L.P. flies along with the currents of change sweeping through the wind energy industry By Jane Caffrey

When it comes to wind power as a source of sustainable energy, great transformation is blowing in. The administration in the United States has declared a revived commitment towards alternative energy, and with the recent $787 stimulus bill, a significant amount of grant money is now available to take on projects. Plans for new wind parks across the nation are being set into motion. Similarly, as advances are made in technology, wind turbines are becoming bigger, better, faster, and stronger, with increased tower height and Megawatt production capabilities. Yet with these alterations regarding wind power in the United States, one company has kept abreast all of the sweeping changes: Goracon Windpower Access Systems, L.P. This rapidly expanding corporation produces customized high access equipment, including lifts, climbing systems, and platforms, to safely and efficiently carry maintenance crews to the tops of soaring wind turbines. Always on the cutting edge of high access equipment and wind energy development, Goracon Windpower Access Systems, L.P. was originally founded in Steinfurt, Germany in 2002. The company produced permanent installations and platforms for high buildings, but shifted its focus to the wind energy industry in 2004. Designing and building innovative wire rope and ladder guided service lifts, ladder climbers, modular access platforms, and blade lifts, the company in Germany exploded along with increased demand in the European market. Last year, Goracon sold 500 separate units to leading companies, such as Enercon, REpower Systems, Darwind Vensys, and Bard Engineering. Yet at the end of 2007, Carl Vanhoutte, who initially joined Goracon in 2004 as a sales manager, presented the idea of expanding to the United States. In April of 2008, Goracon Windpower Access Systems, L.P. was launched in Atlanta, with Vanhoutte serving as the President and General Manager. “Basically, when our customers from Europe are going to take the jump over to the United States, we can tell them that we can guarantee them the same product there,” Vanhoutte said. Like its sister company in Europe, U.S.-based Goracon

Windpower Access Systems has seen a burst of growth, quickly moving through development phases. Originally all products were shipped from Germany to the United States, but Goracon now is now beginning to complete assembly locally. On October 1 of this year, the corporation took a significant step when it moved into a new 11,000 square-foot building in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Here, with 9,000 square-feet of warehouse facility, Goracon will set up complete assembly and hopes to gain full independence from it’s German partner by 2011. “We are trying to get a more solid foot here in the United States,” Vanhoutte said. “We are focusing on the wind industry and on getting out the name of Goracon. We are in expanding mode, and things can change very quickly.” There are several reasons why major companies in the wind energy industry are turning to Goracon Windpower High Access Systems to address their needs. Safety and efficiency are the primary benefits of the Goracon’s diverse product line. As the wind power industry grows, productivity and speed at which maintenance crews can complete their work will become increasingly important. Yet according to Rob Siegel, Director of Operations for ENSA Access & Rescue, the safety culture in the wind energy industry is still young, and regulations for working in the environment of a wind tower have not yet been established. Vanhoutte agrees, and believes that high access systems significantly help and will eventually be included on all new wind turbines. “The workers have to climb up 200 to 300 feet two to three times a day, and not just with a wrench, but with a tool bag that can weigh up to 40 pounds. Our products make it a little bit more easy and a little bit more safe for those guys to get up there,” he said. Corporations in the industry that utilize the high access systems also benefit from increased productivity and savings. High access equipment reduces the time and effort exerted by a maintenance team, and increases the productivity of a single service crew. Service lifts can transport two crewmembers at the same time, and eliminate the need for heavy equipment to hoist tools and materials. With fewer accident claims,

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corporate profile | wind companies see savings in insurance coverage. Decreased physical exertion in climbing a tower also expands a worker’s lifespan within a corporation, leading to less employee turnover and allowing companies to retain experienced laborers for longer periods of time. “With these systems productivity goes up, and you can keep knowledge inside your company,” Vanhoutte said. Today, Goracon Windpower Access Systems offers an extensive product line, and has become an expert in the two main approaches to high access equipment: service lifts and ladder climber systems. The company offers 8 different types of service lifts, with a total of more than 1,500 units. Similar to small elevators, these wire rope and ladder guided lift systems can be installed in open and closed towers both on land and offshore. They offer the most secure climbing conditions and efficiency in tower maintenance. However, while service lifts are built on most new wind

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turbines, the second primary approach to high access systems, ladder climbers, offers a more cost effective climbing option for towers that have already been built. This system utilizes a small motor that pulls rope running along ladder. It reduces the total climber weight by up to 90 pounds. Goracon’s diverse product line also features 6 special construction platforms and one modular maintenance platform-- all meeting the highest international standard and safety requirements. “While we started out with only service lifts, right now we basically have the whole package from A to Z,” Vanhoutte said. “We can now address anything in the wind industry.”

An innovative leader in design within the industry, Goracon Windpower Access Systems additionally offers custom-made products to fit individual client need, emphasizing collaboration and personal service. “Our philosophy is close cooperation with our customers; providing them with the service and quality that they expect, and exceeding in this,” Vanhoutte said. “In the future, if they are looking for new projects, then we hope that Goracon is number one on their speed dial, because they will know that they will get the quality and the service that they need.” One such alliance was formed in late October, when Goracon signed a landmark contract with REpower. According to

the contract, Goracon will produce 300 units for REpower over the course of 18 months, aligning the companies in a mutually beneficial collaboration towards progress. As wind parks continue to be erected into the future, Goracon will strive to implement the latest trends and expand its services around the globe. “We have to face that the wind industry is growing, and as it does, towers will become bigger and bigger,” Vanhoutte said. “We are trying to address this, and looking for logical solutions.” Serving as an industry leader, Goracon Windpower Access Systems will continue to fly high, with increasingly innovative solutions for an ever-evolving industry. ELT

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Goracon Windpower Access Systems  

When it comes to wind power as a source of sustainable energy, great transformation is blowing in and Goracon Windpower Access Systems, L.P....

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