Millimeter-sized Damage Detection Required
Wind turbines, often located in remote areas, require millimeter-sized damage spotting in order to detect, react to and repair problems quickly and with minimal influence on the turbine performance or the environment. The importance of a detailed inspection of all turbines parts is crucial to the identification and prevention of a failure since it allows detecting impending damage and signs of wear in advance and improves maintenance strategies.
ATI is a manufacturer and system integrator of commercial and industrial drones. ATI provides high end, custom drone solutions to industry professionals along with offering flight services with their team of certified pilots and trainers.
Thor ocotopter is a commercial grade heavy lift drone capable of extended flight times, high wind tolerances, and carrying multiple payloads. When integrated with the Phase One camera, it is one of the most capable inspection tools on the market.
Locating and Photographing Fissures on a Wind Turbine Blade
ATI was requested to execute a wind turbine inspection project in Washington. The purpose was to locate and photograph fissures on a wind turbine blade that were marked and measured two years prior. These marks were used to determine if fissures in the blade were worsening or remaining stable. As the markings were only a few centimeters long and had faded considerably due to harsh winter ice and rain, it was extremely challenging to indicate which blade was the problem. Early methods of wind turbine inspection included attempting to use long lenses mounted on tripods for visual inspection were proven ineffective and unsuccessful, and the need for an alternative method that would allow some critical systems and structures to stay online during inspections was clear.
After a successful testing of Phase One 100 MP camera, which demonstrated excellent performances with ATI Thor octocopter in a similar environment, the integrated inspection platform was chosen.
Save Money, Eliminate Human Risk, and Reduce Liability
The wind turbine inspection was completed within two hours (three blades were inspected in only 45 minutes) under ideal light and weather conditions.
Upon review of the images, ATI’s clients were amazed by the resolution. They were able to determine that the blade was still in good working order and did not need to be removed. The resolution of the images was in the millimeter and all markings were easily identifiable.
“Our clients had attempted inspection work with drones before and were skeptical about its abilities to get the imagery they needed” says Stephen Burtt, “However, once we showed them the images, they were shocked by the level of detail. Using these images, they were able to determine the blade was still on good health and they could avoid sending up a climber or removing the blades for ground inspection. We eliminated the human liability factor and saved the major cost of taking the turbine off line to remove the blades”.
Aerial imagery captured by the Phase One camera provides accurate millimeter-per-pixel detail needed for wind turbine inspection. The use of drones for visual inspections can allow some critical systems and structures to stay online during inspections. The combination of the two offers a faster, safer, and more efficient process so businesses are able to save money, eliminate human risk and reduce shareholder liability.
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