Wind turbine blade manufacturer Vestas, have enlisted the services of Sulzer Schmid, a Swiss UAV technology company for rotor blade inspections, and WKA, a blade inspection and repair service provider, to conduct a massive and challenging drone-based blade inspection campaign in Scandinavia, on a staggering 1,250 wind turbines in less than 12 weeks.
The blades of the 1,250 Vestas turbines located across Sweden and Finland must be inspected by the end of June, just in time for the beginning of the repair work season that traditionally takes place during the less windy summer months. To deal with that challenge, Vestas has opted for a drone-based solution, which is the only approach that can meet its quality standards within the time-frame.
WKA & Sulzer Schmid’s have joined forces to offer the complete service needed by Vestas. Within their partnership, Sulzer Schmid’s cutting-edge drone-based inspection technology will be combined to WKA’s qualified field personnel and rotor blade expertise to offer a turnkey solution. WKA will deploy drones equipped with cameras and sensors to capture and record blade defects and ensure smooth operations in the field. The project management will be supported by ROBUR company TEC GmbH, an industrial services specialist.
The offering of Sulzer Schmid and WKA covers the entire workflow up until the defects are made available on the customer portal of Vestas. In addition to diligent planning and efficient field operation, this requires a streamlined defect annotation process and the integration into the backend systems of Vestas to allow for an end-to-end information flow. The HD images captured by the drones are analysed aided by Artificial Intelligence, and detailed automated reports are generated via Sulzer Schmid’s 3DX™ software components.
“The feedback from the field teams and the blade experts provides us with a wealth of information that helps to continuously improve the technology and to further push the boundaries of productivity and ease of deployment,” explained Christof Schmid, Co-founder of Sulzer Schmid.
Thanks to the new capabilities offered by unmanned aerial vehicles, the market for drone-based rotor blade inspections is developing rapidly. “We are convinced that drone-based inspection will become the new standard in the wind industry. In combination with an efficient field operation and a streamlined digital information flow, this innovative solution will add a lot of value to our customers. We are looking forward to seeing the results of WKA and Sulzer Schmid’s collaboration on this inspection campaign”, commented Jöns Sjösted, Senior Service Director, Sweden & Finland of Vestas Northern & Central Europe.