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DashWin – Automated on-site inspection of wind turbine blades

DashWin, a project run by a group of European companies (BSR-UK, Innora, InnoTecUK, MicroTest, RWE NPower, Pro Optica and TWI) and funded by the Research Executive Agency (REA) of the European Commission is developing an advanced shearography inspection unit and a robotic deployment platform for on-site wind turbine blade (WTB) inspection.

The inspection system will provide a rapid, non-contact means of reliably inspecting a composite WTB for surface and sub-surface defects. The robotic platform will enable systematic, in-situ inspection of WTBs and avoid hazardous working at height for the inspection engineer.Wind turbines currently provide a significant proportion of our energy needs, and our reliance upon them is likely to grow further in the coming years. If we are to continue to benefit from this environmentally friendly energy source, it is vitally important that WTBs are appropriately maintained. Current maintenance usually involves an inspector descending a WTB on a rope, performing a visual examination. Clearly this practice could be improved upon, as it is hazardous and may provide inaccurate or, inconsistent results. Furthermore, it is incapable of detecting subsurface flaws, which is a common problem with WTBs manufactured using composite materials.

Potential benefits arising from the application of the DashWin WTB inspection system include:

  • consistent automated examination via robot platform
  • rapid, high-resolution inspection
  • identification of surface and sub-surface defects (to a depth of up to 50mm)
  • advance warning of manufacturing, service or fatigue defects likely to cause catastrophic structural failure
  • in-situ inspection, with no need to dismantle the WTBs
  • avoidance of hazardous working at height.

Laboratory trials and on-site wind turbine testing of the prototype system have demonstrated the feasibility of the inspection process. Additional validation work and long-term industrial trials are now required to convince industry of the merits of this new inspection process.

DashWin will potentially help wind turbine operators to improve the accuracy and repeatability of blade inspection, reduce the risk of blade failure by providing enhanced safety assurance, and increase revenue by improving the availability of wind turbines.

To learn more about DashWin, visit the project website at www.dashwin.eu or email contactus@twi.co.uk.

The DashWin project has been managed and co-ordinated by TWI Ltd (UK). The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA Research Executive Agency (FP7-SME-2011) under grant agreement No 283533.

For more information please email:


contactus@twi.co.uk