ABJ WindVue: Thermal Wind Turbine Blade Inspection

Drone Technology, Data Analysis, Predictive Analytics

Wind Energy

Since 2002, wind energy has increased dramatically. Not only is it the fastest growing source of electricity in the world, it’s also one of the most cost-effective sources. Yet the method for inspecting wind turbine blades has remained outdated. The current method of inspection often requires the use of rope access teams and costly high lift platforms, which can be dangerous and time-consuming.

How is ABJ Drones different?

Our patented ABJ WindVue technology has revolutionized the way wind turbine blades are inspected. After years of research, trials and software development, drone pilots are now able to see up to 15 cm into the blade by using x-ray like drone technology. Specialized sensor systems deliver high-resolution pictures as the patented thermal scan technology identifies delamination, structural damages and other defects of external and internal blade surfaces.

Why It Matters

The current method of inspecting wind turbine blades has many challenges. Turbines must be shut down to obtain an up-close visual of the blades, and usually rely on the ‘tap’ method of gauging potential structural issues, with inside damages often overlooked. As blades mature, on-going maintenance and repair are paramount, but when damages go unnoticed by the naked eye, massive costs can be incurred when blades have to be replaced.

Gathering the Data

Wind farms are aptly named, so our drones are built to withstand the winds in order to collect data regarding the condition of blades. Our drones can endure winds up to 15M/S and beyond (33.5 MPH+ / 54.0 KPH+) with full stability. The use of RTK systems also allows for absolute holding precision down to 5cm. ABJ Drones uses multiple payloads to capture high-resolution optical data and enhanced thermal data, revealing faults beneath the surface of the blade.

Analyzing the Data

The ABJ Drones method of inspection gives a clearer and more detailed picture of the condition of wind turbine blades. Along with lightning strike damage, faults such as delamination, bad bonding, and foreign objects can be easily detected. This data is sent to ABJ’s specialist data labs where the data is organized and examined. Findings are annotated by in-house engineers and blade experts who put forward a recommendation to remedy the issues. ABJ Drones expertise in thermal blade inspection is consultative and flexible, enabling clients to analyze the data themselves should they choose to do so.

Data Mountain/Reporting

When inspecting wind turbine structures, a huge amount of data is generated. Our data sets include both high-resolution optical and highly sensitive thermal analysis looking specifically at external and subsurface damages and issues. Turning the mountain of data into tangible, coherent reports that can be used effectively by asset engineers and asset managers is a crucial step.

ABJ has a multi-tiered approach to generating reports from the provision of raw data only, all the way through to fully annotated expert reports that can be used to repair and maintain assets with maximum efficiency and intelligence. Reporting is customized depending on the client’s specific requirements.

Predictable Issues

Our extensive database of known blade types and issues allows for predictive patterns to be identified and acted upon, giving users insight into the possible range of problems and issues that could be encountered on specific types of blades and when the particular problems may appear in the lifecycle of the WTG. This leads to a more effective and targeted approach to the inspection process, saving hundreds of man-hours and driving huge efficiencies in the maintenance cycle and costs.

In addition to this highly effective and targeted approach, our systems are able to give accurate insights into the potential repair cost of specific issues, which helps significantly when budgeting for maintenance, inspection and repair. Our unique approach and extensive data sets allow asset managers and maintenance crews to have a much higher degree of knowledge at the budgeting, planning and maintenance stages.

Certified Pilot Experience

ABJ Drones delivers a global team of knowledgeable and certified drone/UAV pilots. Our experts are highly trained specialists with extensive experience in a wide range of industries, flying platforms, software, sensors, and cameras. Because technology changes rapidly, and in order to maintain high standards, pilots must undergo rigorous re-training every two years.

ABJ WindVue Benefits

  • Turbine only needs to be shut down for less than one hour, so downtime is much less than with traditional methods, saving time and money
  • Blade diagnosis is much more sophisticated and thorough
  • Discovering damage early means fewer blade replacements, which equates to huge cost-savings
  • Safer method of inspecting wind turbine blades
  • Quick data processing with strong back-end AI
  • Proactively maintain and increase revenue with longer up-time
  • ABJ Drones can deploy specialist teams around the world
More About ABJ WindVue Technology