Martek Aviation has been chosen by one of the UK’s largest energy companies, SSE Plc, to inspect their portfolio of wind turbines using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). SSE, who own and operate wind farms across the UK, has awarded Martek a 2-year Framework Contract to inspect 683 of their wind turbines across 47 sites.
The Framework Contract, starting in February 2018, covers inspection of a variety of wind turbines from a range of manufacturers. Each turbine is made up of 3 blades that are likely to show signs of wear and tear throughout their life. It is an engineering requirement to inspect and maintain the operating efficiency and integrity of these blades and it is of paramount importance that this requirement is met. This is because if a defect presents itself on the blade, there is a high risk to turbine integrity with potentially extreme consequences.
The contract comes on the back of successful wind turbine blade inspections at Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, where Martek Aviation inspected 88 wind turbines over 20 days with 200 separate UAS deployments. Click here to read the full case study.
Benefits of UAS Inspections:
There are many benefits to using UAS over traditional manned inspection methods when inspecting wind turbines. Perhaps most importantly, UAS eliminate the need for rope access or platform inspections.
In 2017, there were 180 wind turbine related accidents, 9 of which resulted in a fatality. It is not difficult to see how accidents and deaths occur when a person is inspecting a turbine 328-feet above the land or sea.
The easiest way of negating this risk for workers is keeping time spent on the turbine to a minimum. If the inspection is completed using UAS, a member of the workforce need only access the turbine to complete repairs.
Another benefit of using UAS for inspections is that they’re more cost-effective than traditional manned inspection methods. On average, a 3-man inspection crew will complete 1 wind turbine inspection per day. It’s a slow and laborious task that uses valuable time and unnecessary resources. In comparison, UAS can inspect 4 wind turbines per day, with a 2-man inspection crew.
It follows from this that UAS inspections result in significantly decreased turbine downtime. A manned crew would need the turbine to be turned off for a whole day, whereas the UAS inspection crew would require the turbine be stationary for a matter of minutes.
Furthermore, a benefit of using UAS for inspections is the streaming of live video feed to teams on the ground, who can assess damage and prioritize repairs. This feed is complimented by custom software which shows specific locations and severity of damage to a turbine blade. This resource is invaluable to a repair team as they only need to access specific blades and they can plan the repair before they climb the turbine.
UAS inspections are safer, more cost-effective and more efficient than traditional manned inspection methods.
For more information visit Martekuas.com