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Distribution panel maintenance: quality and zero stress

Taking action during the shutdown of the Max Green biomass plant

The most extensive shutdown in ten years. Hundreds of contractors, each with their own specific task and strict deadline. This included us, as we were responsible for distribution panel maintenance. A look behind the scenes at the Max Green biomass plant in the Port of Ghent.

The infrastructure previously housed a coal plant. In the early years of 2000, everything was gradually converted into a biomass plant named Max Green. The purpose? To convert wood pellets into electricity. With a capacity of 205 MW, they can provide 320,000 households with electricity, claims the operator, Engie Electrabel.

“To achieve this, the plant itself requires energy, of course. And regular maintenance,” says Service Manager Stijn Cuppens. “We were responsible for maintaining the distribution panels.”

Good preparation is everything. This puts everyone on the same page and avoids any last-minute decisions.
Service Manager Stijn Cuppens

“In this type of project, the maintenance of the distribution panels is part of a tremendously big picture. The entire plant is serviced during the shutdown, from combustion chamber to alternator. Engie Electrabel then expects two things from every contractor: realistic planning and good communication.”

“A realistic schedule requires good preparation. So, as early as the estimate phase, we take stock of all expectations in as much detail as possible. We then translate these into concrete activities and clear planning and maintenance for every distribution panel.”


“We discuss every aspect down to the very last detail. This ensures that everyone is on the same page – something I feel very strongly about personally. This way, we know exactly which procedures are needed for the maintenance of the distribution panels. It also gives Engie a detailed overview of what we will be doing, how and for how long. This lets them integrate our maintenance schedule for the distribution panels into their master plans without any concerns.”

“It’s then up to us to make good on our commitment. As a panel specialist, we have everything it takes to guarantee this. Our technicians, for instance, are able to work with every imaginable brand. In that sense, the situation at Max Green was a typical one: the panels were from various manufacturers and builders, including four of our own.”

“We have the expertise required to deal with them. After all, panels are our core business. Our technicians spend all their time building and maintaining panels. That gives them the right knowledge to quickly assess any type of panel for compliance with current standards. Our guys know their stuff and know what true craftsmanship looks like.”


“Immediately after every maintenance job, we email a report. This report contains an overview of all maintenance work, testing and measurements carried out for every distribution panel – in both text and pictures. We also provide recommendations for the future. For example, which components will need replacing within x number of years?” explains Stijn.

“This report is also an opportunity for feedback. Is the client satisfied with our approach to the maintenance of the distribution panels? Have their expectations been met? If not, what can be done differently or better during the next maintenance stop?”


And what about timing? “Deadlines are sacred in this kind of project. After all, the next contractor is dependent on our work. If only one link in the chain fails to meet the deadline, this causes problems for the people at Engie. And that’s the last thing we want. Our mission is zero stress for our clients.”


Maintenance of 14 distribution panels of various brands:

  • Siemens
  • Schréder-Hazemeyer
  • Schneider Electric
  • Holec