Yariv Geller, vHive, dives into the impact of automation and data democratisation on the wind turbine industry.
The wind power generation industry is no stranger to immediate and pressing challenges. From the surge in original equipment manufacturer (OEM) warranty claims to supply chain shortages and the intricacies of repowering, the industry’s plate is full. So, why focus on the seemingly abstract concept of digitisation when these substantial issues require attention?
The answer is simple.
It is precisely because of the above pressing problems that there is an urgent need to protect wind turbines, by better tracking, inspecting, and maintaining them. This can now be done faster and more precisely and frequently by automatically digitising assets. The vast investment in building wind turbine farms over the past decades further emphasises the importance of the twin forces of automation and data democratisation, which are key to understanding faults, improving performance, avoiding failures and subpar returns, and ultimately reducing warranty claims while supporting repowering projects.
In other words, digitisation is the bridge that allows those ‘bigger fish to fry’ to be addressed effectively.
This article will take a deep dive into why automation and data democratisation are pivotal for the wind turbine industry and explore how these elements are already shaping its landscape. The article will also shed light on how the company’s offerings can leverage these elements to help wind turbine owners optimise longevity and operational efficiency, enhancing performance and productivity.
The impact of automation on wind turbine inspection
When discussing automation in wind turbine inspection, it can be categorised into two essential categories. The first is the swift and comprehensive collection of data across the entire wind farm, and the second involves the seamless processing of the collected data, providing valuable operational insights.
Simplicity of data capture
Automation revolutionises the ability to capture turbine data and allows stakeholders to know their assets better. It ensures that turbine surveys gather an optimal amount of highly accurate data systematically, easily, and at scale. Just imagine the difference between manually inspecting specific turbine features by climbing the turbine or manually flying a drone vs having a drone autonomously collect all available data within 30 mins. By eliminating the complexity of manual inspection methods, automation guarantees an easy, fast, and scalable way to gather consistent data from the field and turn it into insights, while being independent of an external expert operator’s skill – automation sets a new standard for seamless data collection.
Automation not only saves time, but also accelerates processes. The wind turbine industry can now benefit from the same scalability seen in other sectors undergoing digital transformation. Autonomously capturing turbine data with drones allows field operations staff on the ground to launch and monitor surveys easily, whenever they need to, and as frequently as they need to, reducing downtime and enabling turbine inspections on a much larger scale.
Handling massive datasets
Capturing data is one thing; managing and processing vast amounts of data from multiple wind turbine farms across numerous sites is another challenge altogether. Automated systems dedicated to turbine data inspection efficiently handle such large datasets. They ensure data is retrievable, analysable, and comparable over time.
Automation dramatically reduces the costs associated with manual inspection processes, which are time-consuming and often require highly skilled staff. By using low-cost, off-the-shelf drones connected to a powerful software platform, inspection times per turbine are dramatically reduced, eliminating the need for costly professional drone pilots and image inspectors. The cost reduction brought about by automation is simply too significant to ignore. In addition, a powerful data analytics platform helps focus attention where it matters the most, saving wasteful time and cost.
What data democratisation has to do with it, and why it matters
Democratising data in wind turbine inspection lies in the ability for anyone to be able to conduct a survey at any time, get fast, accurate, and automated answers independent of external experts, and for anyone to be able to understand the insights derived from the collected data and drive optimisation. This is where this industry’s digital revolution really comes into play.
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