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Anaheim, California and Aroostook County, Maine: The wind power technology program at Northern Maine Community College has attracted international attention resulting in $28,000 worth of tool and equipment donations from three German companies. That announcement made on May 24 at the American Wind Energy Association WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim, California.
Representatives from the companies announced their contributions to NMCC’s wind power technology program lead instructor Wayne Kilcollins, who is attending the four-day event along with other delegates from Maine involved in the state’s wind industry. The announcement was made during an afternoon reception at the Maine Wind Industry Pavillion at the AWEA conference. The equipment donated will be shipped to the NMCC campus in the coming weeks.
The three German corporations are major suppliers to the international wind industry and are also actively engaged in growing their North American business. According to Kilcollins, the donations demonstrate both the excellent reputation the program has developed in the two years since it was first introduced and the growth nationally in the wind industry. “This is wonderful news and a huge boon to our program,” said Kilcollins. “To have our efforts recognized by three leading international companies in the wind industry speaks volumes to the work that is happening at Northern Maine Community College and across the State of Maine in terms of development of wind projects.”
The largest of the donations came from Wagner GmbH & Co.KG, a family owned precision tool manufacturer based in Much, Germany. The company, which has developed and manufactured innovative torque and tension systems which are being sold worldwide under the tradename ‘Plarad,’ will contribute more than $25,600 in power bolting equipment.
Plarad is donating a set of precision bolting tools so that students can learn handling of such equipment, including safety training. Safety is a key component of Plarad’s tools which are globally recognized for their reliability, durability, efficiency and high technology standard. Plarad is holding a major amount of patents worldwide and in the US. Although Plarad’s products are “Made in Germany,” a partial production in the U.S. is considered for the future.
The tools, which include a hydraulic torque wrench, ratchet head, drive unit and accompanying hydraulic power pack, are used to tighten bolts that hold sections of tower and turbine drive components together, attach the blades to the hub assembly, as well as the nacelle to the tower.
Plarad Bolting Technology, LLC, manages the North American markets and offers the U.S. and Canada the industry’s largest product assortment of hydraulic, pneumatic and electric torque and tension solutions. With regards to the wind industry, the company offers a service portfolio encompassing customer service employee training, calibration service, 3D Analyses of bolting requirements, as well as comprehensive customer support starting as early as during the construction phase.
Plarad visited Maine in November 2010 as part of a ‘Transatlantic Climate Bridge Event,’ an initiative of the German Foreign Office, to speak about their company’s success in the renewable energy business in Europe, Asia and North America. Cosponsor of the event was the Maine International Trade Center who also introduced Plarad to Maine’s educational as well as supply chain resources for the wind industry.
Jeff Freeman, president of Plarad USA, and Petra Hemming, assistant to the managing director of the German headquarters, were very impressed with what Maine has to offer, especially on the workforce development side.
Availability of a skilled workforce is of major importance for a company such as Plarad. Management back in Germany, together with U.S. management, subsequently decided to support NMCC’s wind power technology program. Plarad has built up a network within the industry for about 20 years, and when the company shared their Maine experience with some of their industry partners, they created additional interest in the German wind industry. PSA Sicherheitstechnik GmbH of Solingen, Germany is donating a set of climbing safety gear for turbine technicians which includes a full body harness, double lanyard and work positioning rope, valued at $370.
PSA is a manufacturer of such equipment and also provides safety training as well as certification courses for work force engaged in high altitude activity, such as on wind turbines. The company was founded in 1990 and has its own training facility at their head office in Solingen.
Another industry partner contributing to NMCC is August Friedberg GmbH of Gelsenkirchen, Germany and their US subsidiary, August Friedberg Americas Inc. The company was founded over 125 years ago, supplying bolts for the local coal mining industry. Today Friedberg is also well-established and widely known as one of the leading manufacturers of bolting systems for the wind industry.
Friedberg will provide the NMCC wind power technology program with $2,000 worth of bolts and threaded rods. From the assembly of flange and rotor blades to the fixation of the base, many wind turbine generators worldwide nowadays are literally bolted with Friedberg’s products from top to bottom. Right from the beginning Friedberg’s products had to offer reliability in a demanding environment, a requirement that is the key success factor of the family owned company which is now managed by the third and fourth generation of the original founders.
Carsten Stolle, head of research and development at Friedberg, explains that today’s bolts as used in the wind, oil and gas industry are very different from the classic bolt and screw because today’s demands on material are ‘extreme.’ This is one reason why the company works very closely with local universities in Aachen, Darmstadt and Hannover in addition to the development work done in-house. The company’s ultimate goal is the development of a bolt that will not require maintenance.
“Friedberg is very pleased to support the NMCC wind power technology program and to give students access to ‘quality made in Germany,’” said Stolle. Beatrix Brand, a member of Friedberg’s management team and the individual in charge of the US market, is excited about the opportunity to develop a relationship with NMCC. “We think that our experience in Europe, Asia, North and South America can be very beneficial for Northern Maine Community College,” said Brand.
NMCC announced it would introduce New England’s first wind power technology program in the fall of 2008. The first entering class was admitted a year later. On May 14, 2011, the College graduated its first 14 wind power technicians, who each earned associate degrees.
The program has attracted support from a number of private donors. In addition to this most recent gift, contributions have been made by local firms, including a $10,000 contribution by Maine Public Service Company when the program was first launched, as well as other donations by local companies and organizations.
In January, NMCC announced a $1.2 million dollar contribution from Mary Smith, a Presque Isle native who lives in California, to support the wind power technology program and to establish the Northern Maine Center for Excellence in Alternative Energy Training and Education. The center opened late last month.