TWI has been working to innovate solutions for the inspection of both onshore and offshore wind turbines for several years. Uniting non-destructive testing and robotics, we have created solutions suitable for even the most challenging materials and environments.
Wind turbine inspection falls under one of two categories:
- Inspection during the manufacturing stages to meet technical specifications and weld quality
- Inspection in service to ensure continuity of operation.
Inspection during the manufacturing stages for wind turbines need to meet the challenges posed by working with such large structures, while still meeting productivity, financial and design requirements.
TWI has assisted our Industrial Members to meet these challenges, developing joining technologies that allow for the fast manufacture of large structures with the required inspection techniques to support and ensure the correct quality levels are met. On-site inspection helps verify the weld quality and delivers inspection solutions for better definition of manufacturing defects outside acceptance level.
In-service inspection of wind turbines faces the same challenges related to the size of the structures alongside the difficulties associated with the remote environments they are typically situated in.
To help solve these challenges, TWI has responded through a number of different projects, including developing sensors and other technologies to monitor and assess the condition of these structures. Developing remote solutions allows for improved safety and cost reductions when assessing a wind turbine’s condition. We also assist by linking inspection data with lifecycle optimisation and integrity management techniques.
At TWI, we use our expertise in a broad range of processes and procedures to find innovative solutions for industry’s challenges, including inspection of large composites, inspection of challenging materials, condition monitoring, development of NDT techniques through finite element modelling, digital radiographic inspection, ultrasonic inspection, robotics, and more.
This impartial expertise ensures that we can deliver the correct solution to any given challenge, including:
- Complex component inspection
- Corrosion resistant welds and cladding
- Wind turbine blade and blade root inspection
- Offshore jacket foundation inspection
- Inspection of mooring chains
TWI can combine NDE techniques, such as phased array ultrasonic inspection, guided wave inspection, radiography and others with innovative delivery mechanisms such as crawling robots or drones to offer remote wind turbine inspection solutions that reduce the need for potentially hazardous manual access or costly asset downtimes.
TWI leverages expertise in a range of different technologies for onshore and offshore wind turbine condition monitoring, including:
- Acoustic Emission: Used to monitor structures and machines to locate damage mechanisms
- Vibration Analysis: Potential use with reciprocal devices such as pitch bearings as well as for identifying impact damage
- Embedded Guide Waves (Acousto Ultrasonics): Detecting defects through wave propagation in composite structures
When coupled with advanced software solutions, these technologies can provide joined-up, Internet of Things methodologies for wind turbine maintenance.
As well as performing on-site inspections, TWI can qualify your inspectors, develop and review inspection procedures and help you to identify the most appropriate NDT solution.
TWI has developed technologies as part of collaborative research projects related to wind turbine inspection, including:
- BladeSave: A fusion of structural health monitoring with blade management software for the condition monitoring of wind turbine blades
- CMDrive: Vibration-based condition monitoring for wind turbine gearbox drive trains
- iFROG: Mobile amphibious robotic inspection for offshore monopile foundations
- OSIRIS: Drone deployed in-situ ultrasonic inspection of wind turbine blades
- RADBLAD: The world’s first robotic in-service X-ray radiography of offshore wind turbine blades
- SheaRIOS: In-situ novel , robot-deployed, shearographic inspection of wind turbine blades
- TowerPower: Combined acoustic emission monitoring and guided wave inspection of monopiles
These are just some examples of our work in this area, while we are also working on other projects in different industries that could find future use in wind turbine inspection.
Contact us, below, to discuss how we could help solve your wind turbine inspection challenges.