At a glance
- From climbing wind turbines in the North Sea to inspecting lifts at a high-security prison, no job is too difficult
- Zurich engineers are fully trained to assess all types of plant and machinery
- Insurer’s expert team of engineers offer market-leading service
From scaling 100-metre wind turbines in the middle of the North Sea to assessing lifts in high-security prisons, the typical day of a Zurich engineer is far from mundane.
Zurich’s team of intrepid engineers go the extra mile for their customers to make sure all plant and machinery is in safe working order.
Insider met with Zurich’s David Moate, an Engineer Surveyor of lifts and cranes, to talk about the challenges he and his team face on a daily basis.
Q: So David, how did you end up on top of a wind turbine in the middle of the North Sea?
A: The contract is to inspect 75 wind turbines in the North Sea; it is one of our more extreme assignments. On the days we are inspecting wind turbines it is an early start, about 4.30am. Our team meets up at Grimsby dockside and from there it is about a two-hour journey on a little wind catamaran.
We then transfer on to the wind turbine and begin our inspection. Two members of the team will check the pressure systems to ensure they’re all safe and then we climb to the top of the actual turbine to begin our rigorous inspection. We will then inspect the wind turbine right down to its first aid equipment and survival rations.
Q: How many wind turbines can you inspect in a day?
A: On average, we only manage to inspect two or three turbines in a day. It’s a long day, though. We usually return to Grimsby docks by 6pm.
I’ve seen lift ropes that were at a point where if, they’d carried on running, they would have failed. I’ve also seen an overhead crane working above a workshop where all the connection bolts had come loose and if it had continued, it could have collapsed and killed people
David Moate, Zurich Engineer Surveyor
Q: How dangerous is it to inspect a wind turbine?
A: It’s a very well controlled job and we’re all trained in offshore survival and sea survival as well as all of our climbing courses and certificates. We know how to properly climb on steel structures, how to rescue people and how to survive at sea if we end up in the water.
Q: When you are not heading out to the North Sea to inspect wind farms, what other inspections are you and your team carrying out?
A: It’s an incredibly varied job. Yesterday, I was inspecting lifts in a hospital, for instance. But we could be inspecting anything from patient hoists in retirement homes to working at the quayside with mobile cranes, or in a factory inspecting overhead cranes, forklift trucks, or even escalators and lifts in shopping centres.
Q: Where is the strangest place that you’ve had to carry out your work?
A: The offshore wind farm is definitely up there, but recently I had to do a series of lift inspections in a prison. The building was fully occupied at the time. So that was quite an experience.
Q: How often do your inspections uncover serious defects?
A: I’ve seen lift ropes that were at a point where if, they’d carried on running, they would have failed. I’ve also seen an overhead crane working above a workshop where all the connection bolts had come loose and if it had continued, it could have collapsed and killed people.
It happens quite a lot. I’ve seen a lot of serious defects that have needed to be immediately addressed.
Q: Finally, why do Zurich’s engineers stand out in the marketplace?
A: There are four or five companies across the UK that offer inspections, but Zurich is the biggest in the market. Many customers come back to us because we offer a great service, and our guys can visit a customer to advise if a problem occurs.