Changing the face of wind
turbine blade inspections…
PES met up with WiPoX and ABJ Drones WindVue division to discuss innovative wind turbine blade inspection methods and unique technologies that aim to change the basis of how wind blade inspections are undertaken.
Renewable energy continues to move forward in leaps and bounds showing huge current and future growth potential. In the last 20 years, the wind energy has gathered momentum with no end in sight, especially with the offshore sector‘s massive potential.
While the progress is dramatic and sustainable, inspection technologies remain way behind. With modern sensor technology, robotics and industry 4.0 being buzzwords everywhere, the common inspection technique for wind blades is still rope access, cherry picker, selective inspections, and in the main, pen and paper reports.
The claim is strong. ‘We are changing the face of blade inspection by being able to see up to 15cm into the blade using specialised drone technology, specialised sensor systems, and a patent protected method,’ explains WiPoX CEO, Marius Schroeder.
The almost x-ray level of detail is the result of several years of trials, sensor research, software development, and market ‘know-how’. While high-resolution pictures of blade surfaces are starting to become an industry standard, the patented thermal scan technology aims to also track delamination, structural damages, and other defects beyond the surface.
‘ABJ WindVue aims to equip the wind industry with an enhanced level of blade inspection technology and reporting in order to address the needs of maturing blades,’ adds Vip Jain, CEO of ABJ Drones.
Unknown to many players in the industry, the method of inspecting wind turbine blades with any mobile device or platform is patent protected. The same accounts for many other aspects of this unique technique. Penalties can be enforced by the patent holder if infringed. This puts companies using subcontractors or inhouse teams in an uncomfortable legal position.
WiPoX, being the exclusive patent users, however does not aim to use this protection to scare away competition. Their main goal is to work with qualified, selected, and well-trained partners like ABJ to provide proven, safe, and high-quality means of inspection.