Polytech is helping make wind power a better business by aiding wind turbine manufacturers and energy companies to increase their Annual Energy Production (AEP) and to reduce their Cost of Energy (COE). Specialised in Lightning Protection Systems (LPS) and Leading Edge Protection, which minimises costly leading edge erosion, Polytech’s contributions to wind power are helping decarbonise global energy generation. Mads Kirkegaard, CEO of Polytech, spoke to us about the importance of a global footprint in the wind industry, the impact of political agendas, that smart glasses don’t beat the real thing yet and why he’s itching to travel to Munich.
You are a globally leading producer of wind turbine protection systems. Tell us a little bit about what you do and your production footprint.
So our market is obviously the wind industry, where in layman’s lingo you could state that we want to be the leading technology expert on the subsystems inside the blade, and on what’s around the blade. The possibilities to improve turbine performance haven’t even come close to where it can go. The blade itself constitutes a giant challenge for the people producing it, and as we progress the blade accessories that Polytech produces similarly get more and more niched and complex as a result of the requirements and materials used in the blade. At the same time, blade sizes and turbine quality standards have risen, so it’s a very dynamic industry – it’s a different ballgame compared to five years ago.
In order to be a Tier1 supplier to the biggest players in the wind industry, you need to be where they build their blades and make strategic blade technology decisions. So from our base in Denmark, we have established a presence in China, Mexico, and the U.S. to cover the global market. Our next big decision will be whether to move into India, where we are seeing some interesting developments in wind energy.
Polytech grew from 480 to 830 coworkers globally in 2020. What part of your business has played the most important role in your ability to parry the impact of COVID-19? Are there any particular ways in which you’ve built your business to be resilient, and are there any new insights on how you’ll be building it going ahead based on 2020?
The most important thing for us in the spring was to make sure we didn’t run out of any components. As things stood, we had the financial backing and strength to secure inventory and raw materials from all over the world. Not being able to do so would have been a massive setback. What also turned out to be important was our diversified revenue streams, where the drop in one of our products was basically picked up in equal measure by another, parrying a change in the market that we hadn’t forecasted.
The Chinese lockdown lasted for most of February, which completely shut down our factory there, but our Danish and Mexican operations meant that we were in a position to ramp up our production footprint to offset the effects of the lockdown. We have regional supply chains that work more or less independently to support our global footprint since obviously, you wouldn’t benefit much from it being global unless there were local supply chains. Imagine having a factory in Mexico and trying to bring materials over from Europe or China during 2020!