Things are looking up for KAEFER Industrie


KAEFER Industrie in Germany

There are certain colleagues we all look up to. In this case, Germany’s rope climbing specialists are quite literally head and shoulders above the rest. Find out about how KAEFER Industrie is leveraging one of the most flexible and gravity-defying forms of access.

Sometimes the simplest technology is the most effective. It’s often much less time and resource intensive to send a team of highly qualified climbers up the side of a structure to perform maintenance or non-destructive testing (NDT) than setting up scaffolding, for example. That’s why industrial climbing is well established in several KAEFER markets, such as the UK & Ireland, Norway, Spain and Brazil. It’s still less common in Germany, but that’s beginning to change dramatically.

Reaching the parts that others can’t reach

There are many older industrial complexes in Germany that require maintenance. That’s where rope access can play a part as a more agile and efficient way to access hard to reach areas. For example, NDT normally takes only one to two hours, while erecting and taking down scaffolding can take three to five days. Experienced rope climbers can quickly gain access to parts of a facility that are high up or down low, make an assessment and then decide whether further measures need to be taken or even perform small maintenance themselves. As maintenance is a core part of KAEFER Industrie’s business, rope access is an ideal addition to their core services.

Climbing into the spotlight

In mid-2021, KAEFER Industrie in Germany was approached by the operator of a major natural gas processing facility and was asked if they had rope climbers. As KAEFER Industrie was actively working on increasing their competence in the field, this was an ideal opportunity to showcase what the specialists could do. The initial job would involve the ultrasound inspection of pipelines as well as the disassembly, examination and reassembly of the metal sheets around them. It was planned to work with experienced colleagues from the UK & Ireland, but as soon as the job was about to start, the Delta variant of COVID-19 hit the country, which meant lengthy quarantine times for the team coming to Germany. In times of crisis, flexibility and agility is as important in the organisation as it is climbing up high at a client’s facility. So, KAEFER colleagues from Norway quickly stepped in as a replacement and completed the job to the client’s full satisfaction.

Bastian Hagemann and teammates in ropes

Getting to know the ropes

Buoyed by the success of this first foray into rope access, KAEFER Industrie is fostering the training of in-house rope access specialists. The idea for rope access was brought up by Bastian Hagemann, Technical Services Engineer at KAEFER Industrie. He has become an enthusiastic champion for the discipline and is fully supported by management, who emphasise the development, growth and motivation of its employees.

The idea is to get qualified insulators onto the ropes and offer the same quality of insulation that they would normally provide on scaffolding.

This is a real unique selling proposition and would continue to boost organic growth as well as agility with a steadily changing service portfolio. It’s also about showing how rope access is a safe and effective way to perform industrial maintenance and that KAEFER Industrie has the skill and motivation to perform it. The process of training and qualification involves going through various stages from level one to level three, as well as absolving a certain number of hours ‘on the ropes’. There is always an external level three expert with several years of experience there to supervise and support the new recruits. This further contributes to safety and best practice.

Two insulators and one project leader have currently made it to level one and they can’t wait to work their way up to further qualification – in the truest sense of the term.

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