Sulzer Schmid, a Swiss company pioneering UAV technology for wind rotor blade inspections, has announced that it has completed its fourth successive European inspection campaign for Vestas, covering 4,000 wind turbines in seven countries across Northern and Central Europe. The collected data gives Vestas and their customers actionable insights on the health of their fleet.
Sulzer Schmid managed all aspects of the campaign, using their own specialised teams and local service providers. The scope involved planning inspections, mobilising and training 25 inspection teams, providing hardware and ensuring 24/7 support to field teams to keep the drones flying at all times. With a structured approach and a smooth logistics process, Sulzer Schmid could optimise the campaign, reduce downtime and ensure timely inspections according to schedule.
The campaign used two types of drone-enabled inspection solutions: the 3DX™ AutoPilot and the ultra-portable 3DX™ SmartPilot solution. This combination guaranteed the reliability and flexibility needed to cover a full range of wind farms over a wide geographic area, from large industrial wind parks to small, remote sites with difficult access. The campaign also included the inspections of Vestas next generation EnVentus series.
Inspection images and metadata captured by the drones were uploaded to the browser-based 3DX™ Blade Platform for processing, and experienced Sulzer Schmid blade experts completed the annotations using AI enhanced software and Vestas own taxonomy.
The 3DX™ Blade Platform integrates every aspect of the rotor blade inspections in one place and allows Vestas to monitor the campaign progress at any time. A new damage progression module makes it possible to track the evolution of damages identified in previous campaigns, laying the foundation for predictive maintenance. A collaborative deep link feature enables full details from the inspection to be easily shared within the organisation, with customers and repair partners for optimal transparency, communication and coordination for repair and maintenance.
“This year’s campaign execution has been better than ever and some of the insights gained through our joint efforts will deliver significant benefits for future inspection campaigns. Having instant access to inspection data on any device means we have full transparency at our fingertips and it’s extremely user friendly. The collaborative features of the 3DX™ Blade Platform help us streamline the communication with our customers, plan our repair campaigns more efficiently, thus saving downtime and ensuring the integrity of our blades,” explains Lean Frandsen, Technical Planner, Special Task Nordic, Vestas Northern – Central Europe.
“The successful completion of our fourth successive European inspection campaign testifies to our close relationship with Vestas. At a push of a button, we can provide highly customisable reports and a comprehensive overview of the fleet’s blade health within our 3DX™ Blade Platform. This includes the progression of damages over time, helping Vestas and their customers to optimise their O&M of rotor blades,” Tom Sulzer, CEO of Sulzer Schmid, concludes.