Rethinking workflows to power innovation in wind energy


Wind energy companies are innovating the power industry with their turbine technology. But their internal processes are often stuck in traditional mode. At Vestas,for instance, turbine technicians in remote field locations had to drive all the way back to HQ to report or re-order a part. Vestas sought to eliminate this critical time lag. 



Vestas adopted Cloud Content Management from Box so turbine technicians could log information, record repair needs, and even order parts from the company’s proprietary marketplace — all from the top of a turbine, even if out of range. 



With Box as a centralized information hub, Vestas now has quicker insight into which turbines are failing and about to fail. Technicians can order parts instantly to get them up and running faster — sometimes saving a solid month of repair time. And IT controls who sees what sensitive data, keeping content governance under tight control in a highly regulated industry.

Clean, renewable wind power is now available in over 90 countries, and the wind energy industry is growing rapidly. The Global Wind Energy Council reported a 12.6% growth in cumulative wind energy capacity last year alone. As you drive along a rural highway in Texas or fly over the Gansu Wind Farm in China, rows and rows of high-tech wind turbines provide an awe-inspiring vista.

Yet for all their technology triumphs, digitizing the jobs of technicians in the field has not been a high priority for most wind energy companies. These jobs are rugged and highly physical. A typical scenario looks something like this: a skilled turbine technician climbs to the top of a platform in the sky to assess a broken machine, sometimes in inclement conditions. The technician takes photos and notes, then climbs down, drives back to HQ, and fills out the paperwork to make a report and order parts. 

This tedious paper trail — and the time lag it creates — costs money and delays progress. For a wind energy company to be efficient and competitive, decision-makers need to know what's happening now, not later.


Vestas, the world’s biggest manufacturer of wind turbines, imagined a new scenario: a technician climbs the platform, takes photos with a phone, instantly uploads them to a project folder, makes a report, and orders parts — right then and there. By changing the model with cloud-based data-capture solutions, Vestas is speeding up and simplifying the job of workers in the field and saving wind energy companies time and money.


"We have over 10,000 employees, so if you save them ten minutes each, that’s a lot of time.”

David Woodard, Lean Systems Engineer, Vestas


Mobility, reinvented for maintenance

To achieve this vision, David Woodard, Lean Systems Engineer at Vestas, turned to Box. 

 Where technicians used to take pictures in the field, fill out paperwork, and file it all later, Cloud Content Management with Box enables them to upload photos and data and make reports right from mobile devices in the field.

With data in a digital form, Vestas’ technicians can better conduct calculations and see what’s happening with turbines instantly rather than having to process all the paperwork and wait a month. It speeds up the process of finding out which turbines are faulting and where they’re faulting, and makes it faster to order parts.

This focus on mobility has been a key differentiator for a company where so much of the workforce consists of skilled labor in the field.


“In a lean team, we like to leverage our employee genius that’s out in the field.”

 David Woodard, Lean Systems Engineer, Vestas

A dedication to iteration

Digital transformation is an iterative journey. As Woodard describes it, Vestas started small with theirs: simply taking paper spreadsheets and putting them online.  

“We had tried to take big steps before in the past, and they failed,” says Woodard. “There was too much confusion with something new, a lot of bugs and issues that no one wanted to deal with.” Starting with a simple proof of concept — proving that an idea will actually work — gets people on board. 

When Woodard proved that Vestas could save money, get better results, and shorten maintenance cycles by enabling technicians to do more of the work right in the field, the company’s leadership was excited to hear what else technology could do.

Vestas + Box

Full, flexible control over content governance

One of the reasons Cloud Content Management has worked as a solution is the flexibility of information governance that Box provides. Sometimes it’s important for customers to see data and reporting on machinery in order to get the full picture of what needs to be done. Other times, it’s better if they only get a high-level view and are shielded from some of the particulars. 

 Because Box allows content sharing that’s flexible on a per-customer, per-file basis, Vestas can better control who sees what, when. “It can be tricky,” says Woodard. “But that’s why we like Box, because it’s flexible enough to let us do what we want to do on a case-by-case basis.”


"We didn’t come into this with a clear path to information governance other than separating customers from internal.”

 David Woodard, Lean Systems Engineer, Vestas

Vestas turbine

Layers of versatile content in the cloud

Box acts as a unified content layer for Vestas’ overall digital approach. The company has an internal dashboard to display all the turbine data, customer performance data, and quality data, which sits on a SQL database. They also have an Amazon-like internal marketplace for ordering turbine parts.

That marketplace technology sends data to Box, which runs on a server that consolidates all the information back to the main dashboard. By refreshing data every few hours, this digital experience closely simulates real time for employees and company leaders.

Says Woodard, “It's been cool to see how we’ve adapted from a small idea to progressively elaborate to something that works for the techs in the field and capitalizes on their employee genius.” But Woodard envisions a future for the energy industry and his company that involves more sophisticated and utterly integrated digital tools — like machine intelligence for diagnostics. That future is not far away.

Related content

Gartner: Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms, 2018

Box is honored to be recognized again by Gartner as a Leader in the Content Collaboration Platforms Magic Quadrant for 2018.

Learn more
Box Security
A safer place for all your content

At Box, we're dedicated to bringing secure, centralized and cloud-native content services to organizations all over the world. We embed security and resilience not only into our products, but into the very fabric of our enterprise.

Learn more
Building better governance in the age of free-range content

Discover how Box Governance enhances protection for sensitive content, enables defensible discovery for litigation and easily defines retention and disposition schedules for files in the cloud.

Watch now