5 Reasons to Use Autonomous Drones for Wind Turbine Inspections

5 Reasons to Use Autonomous Drones for Wind Turbine Inspections

4 Jan 2024 Written by Naomi Stol Zamir

If you run a wind farm, you already know how important inspections are to preventing downtime and maximizing the lifespan of your equipment.

Not only is conducting these inspections critical to creating effective maintenance schedules — it also ensures your assets stay operational and at peak performance.

Traditionally, inspections have been conducted by scaling each turbine to visually inspect components, creating safety hazards and drastically increasing inspection costs. Other methods involved cranes or cherry pickers to reach these heights, which can be potentially unsafe and expensive.

Drones changed the game, allowing companies to inspect turbines faster, cheaper, and safer than legacy methods. Fast-forward to today and autonomous drones have further transformed wind turbine inspections.

So, why are wind farms turning to autonomous drones for their inspection needs? Here are just a few of the top reasons.

Wind Turbine Drone Inspection: Top Reasons to Use Autonomous Drones 

There are many reasons to make the switch from legacy methods to autonomous drones for commercial use. Let’s explore some of the top ones.

1. Boost Employees Safety

One of the reasons why organizations adopt drone inspections is the substantial increase in employee safety. 

Compared to legacy methods, like rope inspections or cherry pickers, drone inspections entirely remove the risk of falling.

Instead, pilots stay on the ground while drones reach the necessary heights, capture high-quality data, and allow technicians to review results from the ground or back at the office. Drones for commercial use can capture video, images, and sometimes thermal imaging, providing even deeper insights into the current state of your wind turbines.

While safety is still possible with manual wind turbine inspection methods — autonomous wind farm inspections eliminate the need for specialized skills and experience. 

2. Drive New Cost Savings

Drone inspections are a more cost-effective solution for carrying out inspections compared to traditional methods. Older methods require expensive equipment, such as harnesses, climbing, and specialized training for technicians. Each of these represents an ongoing cost to the business.

Additionally, legacy methods are  time-consuming, increasing labor costs. Conversely, autonomous drones can conduct inspections quickly, saving valuable time in the field.

Wind turbine drone inspection costs include the hardware, software, and labor hours. Hardware is cheaper and more easily maintained, while labor costs are greatly reduced due to the rapid pace of drone inspections and the decreasing need for highly-skilled personnel. When you also consider cutting recurring site visits as a consequence of more accurate data acquisition, upgrading to drones can go far in decreasing overall operational expenses.

3. Enhance Data Quality

The quality of data captured during the inspection is critical to determining whether maintenance actions are necessary while contributing to predictive maintenance models. 

A drone camera for wind turbine inspection is capable of capturing highly accurate images, and some models even include thermal imaging capabilities. These detailed images allow inspectors to closely examine turbine blades, the nacelle, and other structural components in better detail than visual inspections with other methods. 

Detecting defects or other issues before they escalate further allows for maintenance to take corrective action before these issues escalate further. Otherwise, you may face more expensive repairs or unplanned downtime as the problem worsens.

4. Improve Location Accessibility

Locations in rougher terrain are a significant hurdle to conducting inspections. Wind turbines are often in hard-to-reach areas, making manual rope inspections even more challenging as specialized equipment needs to be taken to the site. 

Drone inspections leverage easily transportable drones, requiring no specialized vehicles or other equipment to be hauled to the turbine. Technicians are able to deploy the drones and carry out inspections with roughly the same process regardless of the asset’s location.

5. Carry Out Faster Inspections

Utilizing a drone wind turbine blade inspection allows for significantly faster inspections for each turbine. Turbines need to be taken offline to conduct inspections, so decreasing the amount of downtime goes far in reducing how much energy output is lost during inspections.

Additionally, inspections are crucial for wind turbine maintenance scheduling. That’s why, if turbine inspections depend on time-intensive methods, they’ll be conducted less frequently, and detrimental issues can go unnoticed.

Conducting fast drone wind turbine inspections goes a long way in enhancing operational efficiency, both by extending the lifespan of turbines and by minimizing lost output during inspections.

Team Up with vHive for Autonomous Drone Inspections

Drone inspections offer significant advantages over legacy inspection methods. Autonomous drones take these benefits even further by removing specialized training and further reducing labor hours. You can see why these reasons and more are encouraging wind farms to upgrade to the latest inspection technology.

vHive is an industry leader in autonomous drone software and digital twin technology that allows you to maximize the operational efficiency and productivity of your wind farm. Ready to upgrade to the latest method for rapidly inspecting your wind farm? 

Book a demo today to see how wind farms are using autonomous drone inspections to drive meaningful results.

Back to All Posts

Related Articles