AMNYTT 5/2020 - Page 108

INDUSTRIAL CLIMBERS The sun is shining, but it is miserably cold. No surprise there; it’s December. And we’re outside, in the middle of nature. Our colleagues from the wind team at Phoenix Contact, Karl-Heinz Meiners and Lukas Christ, are currently discussing the situation with Tommy Liebmann and Selvin Keller. These two are industrial climbers. Out here, they have the job of installing the new ice detection sensors from Phoenix Contact where they belong – namely, on the blades of a wind turbine. In this case, these are three giants together, the hub of which is mounted 140 meters above the forest floor, while the individual blades, with a length of more than 70 meters, reach even higher into the steel-blue sky. One of the blades is currently aligned precisely so that it is pointing straight downwards. Welcome to the workplace of Selvin Keller and his colleague. It only seems that industrial climbers have a lonely job at first glance – all alone on the facade, tower, or rotor blade. But teamwork is one of the basic requirements, as 27-year-old Keller explains. “We always work as a team. One man safeguards, one climbs. This has also been the prescribed standard for a long time.” Our colleague Liebmann is already in the wind tower and is taking the elevator to the nacelle. From there he will climb, secured of course, onto the turbine roof and lower the climbing ropes on the outside of the tower. No place for adrenaline junkies “Industrial climbing doesn’t have much in common with sport climbing,” says Selvin Keller. “We use rope access technology to reach places that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to reach with scaffolding or lifting equipment. The job is not the climbing, but working on the site. Therefore, most rope access workers are trained craftsmen and skilled workers who just happen to have a workplace that is a little more exotic,” he grins, and adds, “I’m one of the few exceptions, because I’m actually a trained retail salesman. I learned rope skills at a Australian rappelling event held by Jochen Schweizer. It captivated me and never let me go.” Since then, Keller has combined his passion and the profession he learned by founding a company that offers rope access work. No sooner is he down again than Tommy Liebmann joins the briefing with the Phoenix Contact experts. Meiners and Christ pull out the installation plans and explain exactly where the ice detectors have to be positioned. The two 3 – the certificate level that includes training to become an industrial climber in Germany Working at altitude is hard work; specialists are rarely older than 50 22 UPDATE 5/20 The Phoenix Contact innovation magazine