The evolution of Wind Turbine Inspections.
Danijel Bogojevic of ALL NRG shares with us how Scopito improved their product.
by Ditte R. Lønstrup
Danijel Bogojevic of ALL NRG shares with us how Scopito improved their product.
As of this writing, it is estimated that by the end of 2019, the global wind turbine market will be valued at $90.114 billion USD with a forecasted market value rising to $123.154 billion USD by 2025.
Also by the end of this year, the expected worldwide wind turbine installations will exceed 650 gigawatts. To put that in perspective, a typical onshore wind turbine, running at a capacity of 2 ½ to 3 MW can produce more than 6 million kWh or 6GWh annually, or enough to supply 1,500 average households with electricity.
On average, an offshore wind turbine of 3.6 MW can power more than 3,312 average households.
So by doing some simple math, we can estimate the number of operating wind turbine generators to be about 110,000 worldwide. In 2019 alone, it is expected to be about 23,000 new installations.
To take this thought process even further, imagine that these wind turbines are installed in the most hostile environments possible, where they are physically beaten by the elements such as hail, rain, snow, salt water, sand, the sun and other climatic exposure. The construction of wind turbines is solid, however, the blades are especially susceptible to the elements and need continuous monitoring for damage.
The good news is that there is a phenomenal opportunity to provide support to the Wind Turbine industry by providing expert inspection services and delivering high-quality analysis and reporting.
We must keep in mind that the renewable energy sector is not made of money. In fact, many operators are funded by investors, government grants, or subsidies. What that means for WTG operators is that they must be able to rely on affordable inspections that include exceptional reporting, while at the lowest cost possible.
For the service provider, are inspections profitable? Yes. If we approach the opportunity with the mindset to pro-actively develop a low-cost solution. That alone can separate us from the pack so to speak.
Before the age of drones, wind turbine inspections were a dangerous
manual operation requiring men to climb towers with ropes and blade “climbing” gear.
With WTG’s rising up more than 250 feet and the blades extending 150
feet long, technicians were risking their lives in every climb.
Technicians needed to be certified to perform the inspections; trained in climbing, rescue in heights, as well as other tasks in order to perform the work and support team members in case of emergency.
These days, we have drones to perform the visual inspection by capturing high-resolution images at precise intervals that will later be analyzed for defects. Drones can be flown manually (or by stick), but now, the drone flight is literally automated down to each movement, and photo capture.
For the (AI)analysis and reporting, Scopito employs Certified Wind Turbine Engineers who perform the analytics and annotate the images with any concerns or notable issues. We also offer an accurate depiction of your turbine with issues, in the form of a digital twin.
As the part of an inspection company that offers inspection reports as their core product, one employee of the wind turbine inspection division in the energy company ALL NRG tells us about his challenges with inspections and shares an exciting vision for the future.
The data management platform Scopito is used by a lot of drone inspectors around the world. But Scopito is more than “drone software”, and today we’ll be meeting a company that started out using Scopito for drone inspections, but ended up using it primarily for wind turbine inspections.
ALL NRG is divided into two main fields: Oil & Gas, and Wind.
Scopito is primarily used by the Inspection division in ALL NRG – the other divisions of ALL NRG don’t do reports.
They deliver a piece of craftsmanship, whereas the report, and giving our assessment – that’s our product.
All NRG is a company located in Denmark, Northern Europe, with more than 20 years of experience in the on- and offshore energy sector. With more than 600 employees they have energized more than 90 % of the world’s offshore wind turbines.
We talked to Danijel Bogojevic who is one of the inspectors applying the drone inspection software (Scopito) and asked him how ALL NRG as full-scope energy providers offer value to their clients, and how the software helps to create this value.
For ALL NRG, there are a lot of occasions for doing an inspection for a client, one of the most common being the client approaching the end of warranty on a wind turbine. Here, the customer requires an impartial assessment of the condition of the asset that they bought from the wind turbine producer, e.g. 5 years ago, so that they know if a repair is needed while the warranty is still valid. This data can then be applied in matters between the buyer and the producer of the turbine. People considering buying a used wind turbine is another example of a type of customer for ALL NRG.
BS (Before Scopito), some of the things that Danijel Bogojevic would spend a lot of time creating the report. It involved fitting images and trying to unify the look.
Things like this were very time-consuming and sometimes ended up in platform issues towards the customer. With Scopito it looks the same every time. The software automatically makes sure that the image fits to where it is to be used. Small, practical features like this are a real big help.
As for all other companies, bringing down the time spent on different tasks is a high priority – and one thing that this means for ALL NRG’s inspection division is bringing down the time spent on creating their inspection reports.
Right now, something Danijel Bogojevic considers to be a challenge is that it takes ALL NRG as much time creating a report as it takes to do the inspection itself – about a day for each thing. And he is hoping to bring that reporting time down significantly in the future.
You could say that Scopito is sort of an extended report for us.
In addition to reports, we can give the customer access to the data via Scopito. One person from the client company might need a report on the gear casing, and another person on the blades, so this is a good way to do things.
The fact that we use Scopito saves us time. It also gives us a more concrete – and complete – product to sell.
Danijel also points out the high pace and intelligence level of the Scopito platform, for example, the advantages of the map function, which is something ALL NRG used to lack in the reports they created.
His customers are not paying for the inspection itself, he says, they’re really paying for the report. The “extended” report that Scopito provides, means that ALL NRG is delivering a more professional and end product, and that has meant a lot for business, Danijel concludes.
When asking Danijel, in what way he sees himself doing inspections going forward, he’s hoping that the software will be able to save him even more time. And, maybe more importantly; decrease the risk of data loss during an inspection.
My dream for the future of inspections looks like this: I just finished inspecting a wind turbine. I pull my tablet out of my bag, I press send. And it’s already uploaded in Scopito, and the customer has the report from day 1. Then I’ll carry on to the next turbine on my schedule.
It’s a dream he shares with Scopito CEO Ken Isobe Falk. The two are actively collaborating to bring this dream to live in the Scopito software.
Let’s imagine we’ve been to Mexico for one month, doing inspections on 50 wind turbines. And we get home – and the computer breaks down. Data is our foundation for everything we do, so that is a lot of money to lose. Because of this, we look forward to the day where we can just press “send” while on-site and be certain that the data is uploaded and safely stored already.
Hopefully, this case-study contributed to your understanding of how one significant company handles inspections and has sparked some thoughts and excitement for the technical evolution yet to come within the steadily improving field of wind turbine inspections.
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