Vestas launches huge drone inspection campaign in Scandinavia

Vestas

Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has announced it will employ drone technology to carry out inspections on a whopping 1250 turbines in Scandinavia in less than 12 weeks.

For this important campaign, time is of the essence. The blades of the 1250 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 high-quality standards within such a demanding timeframe.

Sulzer Schmid, a Swiss company pioneering UAV technology for rotor blade inspections, and WKA, a blade inspection and repair service provider, have been enlisted by Vestas for the job.

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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.

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Co-founder of Sulzer Schmid Christof Schmid says the feedback from the field teams and the blade experts provides the company with a wealth of information that helps to continuously improve the technology and to further push the boundaries of productivity and ease of deployment.

Thanks to the new capabilities offered by unmanned aerial vehicles, the market for drone-based rotor blade inspections is developing rapidly.

Jöns Sjöstedt from Vestas says the company is 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,” he says.