Wind Turbine Inspection Solution Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Right Solution

Wind Turbine Inspection Solution Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Right Solution

12 Feb 2024 Written by Sharon

Wind Turbine Inspection Solution Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Right Solution

Inspecting wind turbines is a cornerstone of operating an efficient, cost-effective wind farm, but the inspection landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Finding the right wind turbine inspection solution that meets your needs can be challenging.

We’ve come a long way from rope inspections being the primary options. Now, inspection technology has become even more accurate, but not without increasing the complexity of making the right decision for your wind farm.

So, how can you decide? It starts with weighing the costs, benefits, and required expertise needed to use new technologies. After all, it’s crucial to extend wind turbine longevity without increasing operational expenses.

It’s challenging — that’s why we’ve put together this buying guide to help navigate available technologies and how they’ll affect your wind farm so you can find the right turbine inspection solution for your needs. Read on to learn how to find the perfect solution for your operation.

Crucial Factors to Evaluate for a Wind Turbine Inspection Solution

How can you find the perfect inspection solution that enables you to inspect wind turbine parts quickly and then improves how you schedule maintenance? Let’s explore critical factors to consider when evaluating potential inspection solutions.

Accuracy and Resolution of Data

Your chosen solution must accurately capture data at high resolutions during inspections. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have enabled an entirely new level of accuracy and data capture.

Autonomous wind turbine drone inspection technology combined with drones with high-resolution cameras enables the inspection solution to provide detailed imaging of hard-to-reach turbine components. Next-gen drone software is built with computer vision, enabling comprehensive coverage and consistent data capture.

Once captured, technicians will have everything they need to review all captured data and start making maintenance decisions and schedules.

Safety and Compliance

The right solution will leverage technology to reduce the risk factors involved with traditional methods of inspections. Drones remove the need for technicians to reach significant heights outside the tower, instead allowing them to stay on the ground while the drone captures the necessary images.

Wind farms are also subject to safety standards; non-compliance with them can result in fines, penalties, or injuries. Minimizing or removing the need to put technicians in harm’s way helps ensure compliance with these regulations.

Cost-Effectiveness

Every solution will have upfront costs and possibly recurring charges. However, your future solution should create long-term savings and contribute to more efficient inspections and maintenance of wind turbines.

Advanced technologies such as autonomous drone software, leading-edge drones, and AI analytics will require an upfront investment. Decision-makers need to consider the benefits of the specific solution to understand potential cost-savings over long-term usage.

For example, vHive’s autonomous drone inspections can be handled in-house, removing added costs when using a third party while also enabling more precise inspections and data collection.

Speed and Efficiency of Inspection

Structural and turbine blade inspection requires the turbine to be taken offline. This downtime directly impacts energy generation. Every hour of downtime is a significant loss of revenue. As such, minimizing downtime allows turbines to get back up and running to contribute to the entire operation.

An ideal solution will increase the speed and efficiency of inspections to reduce necessary downtime. Faster inspections also allow you to reduce labor hours per turbine.

Efficient inspections mean you can conduct them more frequently, capturing data that can be used in maintenance scheduling. Performing necessary maintenance before it causes unplanned downtime also contributes to operational efficiency.

Ease of Deployment and Use

A critical factor to consider with any new inspection solution is deployment processes, ease of use, and necessary expertise. Ideally, the solution should be easy to learn and require minimal in-house expertise.

Teams across the organizations will need to be able to use the solution; it won’t just be the technicians who perform the inspections. Evaluate deployment processes and the solution’s user experience. How much training will your teams need to put the new software to work?

Additionally, consider how the solution might integrate with your other systems. Does it provide any API support to share data with other tools and systems in your ecosystem? Being able to work with other software easily can help the entire organization become more productive.

Automation and AI Integration

Autonomous drone technology minimizes the necessary expertise of technicians as they won’t need to learn the intricacies of piloting drones. Instead, autonomous drones are deployed while the technicians review results or work on other tasks while the drones capture high-quality data.

Additionally, AI analytics play a vital role in processing captured data. The right solution will be able to analyze data captured during the inspection to identify any anomalies and signs of wear, providing enhanced issue detection accuracy. The right solution also provides predictive maintenance scheduling to avoid any issues affecting turbines adversely.

Combined, a solution that leverages autonomous drones and advanced analytics will provide highly accurate issue detection and allow wind farms to keep turbines operating optimally.

Scalability and Flexibility

Solutions need to be capable of adapting to different types of turbines, handling varying environmental conditions, and processing the significant amounts of data collected during inspections. Technicians should also be able to do ad-hoc inspections if weather damage or unplanned downtime occurs.

Your wind farm will likely grow over time, adding new towers and requiring advanced capabilities as you scale up. The right wind turbine inspection solution can scale alongside you by being able to inspect any towers, provide the utility you need, and offer API support to work with other systems you adopt.

Avoid only looking at your present needs and focus on the long-term growth and changing needs of your wind farm when evaluating a possible solution.

Reliability and Durability

You need an inspection solution that will work every time you need and work as expected. Buggy software or solutions that are not properly maintained can create significant issues in the inspection process. 

It’s crucial to use a company that’s a dedicated technology company, not just a service provider. The solution’s vendor should be dedicated to long-term advancements and continually explore how to implement the latest technologies into their solution.

Additionally, the right solution takes a long-term perspective on project development with the flexibility and availability to operate anywhere in the world.

Support and Maintenance

You’re not just buying the specific solution; you’re also partnering with the vendor that develops and supports the solution. The vendor of your chosen solution should provide customer service with rapid responses and ongoing maintenance.

Customer and technical support should provide low turnaround times for addressing any issues or questions that arise. Waiting too long for support can significantly hamper inspection and maintenance scheduling.

The right vendor will also provide routine maintenance for their platform, which includes updating the software itself and keeping the underlying infrastructure operating as expected.

Explore vHive’s Wind Turbine Inspection Solution

The right solution will help maximize efficiency, ensure safety, and minimize costs. Each of these elements is critical for building a lasting business in the renewable energy sector.

The growing complexity of wind turbine solution technologies provides plenty of benefits. However, this complexity makes it more challenging to navigate all available options to find the perfect choice for your operation.

vHive is a leading provider of leading-edge wind turbine inspection solutions. Our autonomous drone solution and AI-driven analytics platform allow you to streamline your operation and maximize the efficiency of the entire wind farm. Learn more about the vHive’s solution today.

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