PEOPLE AT THE HPA: MR UWE RADKE, CHIEF ELECTRICIAN

He is not only re­spon­si­ble for elec­tronic con­struc­tions but also for his col­leagues: Uwe Radke, the Chief Elec­tri­cian at the HPA. Learn about the po­si­tion and his daily busi­ness in our in­ter­view.

About him

Name:                       Uwe Rad­ke
At HPA:                    since 2017
Position:                  Chief Electrician

Mr Uwe Radke trained as an elec­tri­cian, specif­i­cally main­te­nance and re­pair, and is a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist. He qual­i­fied as an elec­tri­cian in Frank­furt am Main in 1996. He has worked for var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions dur­ing his ca­reer as well as for the City of Ham­burg from 2006 and has also worked for the fire brigade and po­lice. Mr Radke was re­spon­si­ble for the en­tire medium volt­age and light­ning pro­tec­tion sys­tems here. In Jan­u­ary 2017, he started work­ing as the chief elec­tri­cian for the HPA.

 WHAT MADE YOU BE­COME AN ELEC­TRI­CIAN?

'When I was a boy, I would get an elec­tric shock while try­ing to re­pair a lamp. From then on I wanted to know what this in­vis­i­ble force was und where it came from.'

WHAT IS A DAY AT WORK LIKE? WHAT DO YOU DO DUR­ING THE DAY? HOW OF­TEN ARE YOU NEEDED?

'I’m re­spon­si­ble for the elec­tri­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion and safety of the com­pany. So, the phone hardly ever stops ring­ing. Nor­mally I be­gin at 7 o’­clock at the work­shop in Har­burg. Some­times the day be­gins on site it­self. Then my du­ties lie mostly in or­gan­i­sa­tion or an­swer­ing en­quiries. Some col­leagues need sup­port with elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing stan­dards or reg­u­la­tions, whilst oth­ers have prac­ti­cal ques­tions.'

DO YOU TRAIN NEW colleagues?

'Not, I don't but I do train­ings for per­son­nel with knowl­edge in the field of elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing. Be­sides, I am re­spon­si­ble for or­gan­is­ing ad­vanced train­ings for my col­leagues as well as our an­nual tran­ing for elec­tri­cians and spe­cial­ists in charge. Fur­ther­more, I per­son­ally at­tend three to four train­ings a year to stay up to date. In those lessons we some­times eval­u­ate elec­tri­cal ac­ci­dents to de­ter­mine what hap­pened and how it hap­pened. This helps to learn from past mis­takes. The re­sults then are in­co­po­rated in fol­low­ing tran­ings to keep every­one well-in­formed.'

ARE YOU WORK­ING ON MORE THAN ONE PRO­JECT AT A TIME?

'I am or at least I should be in­volved in any big­ger pro­jects. At the mo­ment, the shore­side power sys­tem in Al­tona is def­i­nitely a ma­jor topic. We are try­ing to win more ships over to the use of shore­side power. But I'm also in­volved in the con­struc­tion of the Kat­twyk Bridge, the Rethe bas­cule bridge as well as other fields of HPA. Fur­ther­more, there are nine elec­tri­cians un­der my su­per­vi­sion who spe­cial­ized in dif­fer­ent fields like over­head wires or au­toma­tion. In the end, I can't be equipped with knowl­edge about every­thing.

There's peo­ple call­ing every­day ask­ing me for ad­vice: 'We have this prob­lem; how can we solve it? Are there any guide­lines? Do we have to fol­low cer­tain in­struc­tions?'. We reg­u­larly meet and dis­cuss up­com­ing tasks and their so­lu­tions to­gether. Re­gard­ing the mul­ti­tude of dif­fer­ent fields and branches at HPA, it's not enough to solely be work­ing on one pro­ject. There­fore, I am in­volved in var­i­ous pro­jects.' 

ARE THERE ANY PRO­JECTS YOU PRE­FER TO WORK ON? FOR EX­AM­PLE WORK­ING ON BRIDGES?

'No, I don't pre­fer any pro­jects, I like to work on all of them. There are so many ex­cit­ing fields and branches at HPA, you just have to liked them. Since the shore­side power sys­tem is a pi­lot pro­ject and unique in its way, I am pretty oc­cu­pied in de­vel­op­ing the next shore­side power con­nec­tions. The fact that it is unique and brand new just keeps me in­ter­ested and ex­cited.

You have to know lots of things: When can I carry out which cir­cuit? How is the au­to­matic process work­ing? What do the dis­plays in case of er­ror mean? I am also in close con­tact with the con­struc­tion site man­ager to dis­cuss the course reg­u­larly. In this way we are able to re­act to pos­si­ble in­ci­dents ef­fi­ciently. The ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge we gain dur­ing this pro­ject can be used for the next one. But not only the shore side power plant is spe­cial, the Kat­twyk and the Rethe bas­cule bridge are out­stand­ing, too. Such con­struc­tions nat­u­rally arise dif­fer­ent ques­tions than build­ing an es­tate of ter­raced houses. So many dif­fer­ent fields of elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing come into play which leads to oc­cu­py­ing the whole team of elec­tri­cians.'

SO, YOU'RE IN­VOLVED IN PLAN­NING THOSE CON­STRUC­TIONS FROM BE­GIN­NING TO END WHICH AL­LOWS YOU TO BE FULLY IN­FORMED AT ANY GIVEN TIME?

'Yes, I'm in­volved from be­gin­ning to end; if that means I am fully in­formed about every­thing is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. It's my job to ver­ify the elec­tri­cal plan, so I check whether it com­plies with the guide­lines and rules. It's eas­ier to do this dur­ing the plan­ning process than to tear some­thing up af­ter­wards due to an in­fringe­ment of the rules. Er­rors can hap­pen, it's hu­man, but we have to make sure that those mis­takes don't en­dan­ger any col­leagues. There­fore, we have to guar­an­tee the elec­tri­cal safety, which is part of my job.'

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR HIGH­LIGHT OR YOUR MOST EX­CIT­ING PRO­JECT SINCE WORK­ING FOR HPA?

'That would be the shore­side power sys­tem. It's one of the most ex­cit­ing con­struc­tions un­der our su­per­vi­sion. I am proud to say that the ships can turn off their en­gine be­cause we are able to sup­ply it with shore­side power. For the fu­ture I can rather see us serv­ing con­tainer ships. In the end there are more con­tainer than cruise ships in the port. Be­sides, the con­tainer ships stay longer than cruise ships, so will be able to con­tribute to cleaner air in Ham­burg.' 

IMAG­INE THIS: A FRIEND FROM ABROAD WHO HAS NEVER BEEN TO HAM­BURG COMES TO VSIT. WHAT WOULD YOU SHOW HIM?

'I would take him to the Dock­land to climb it and to en­joy the view. Af­ter­wards we would go for a walk along­side the Elbe up to Teufels­brück to have a cof­fee at 'Café En­gel'. Fi­nally we would take the ferry 62 to go back Al­tona.'

Thank you for the in­ter­view.