End-of-Warranty Wind Turbine Inspections

End-of-Warranty Wind Turbine Inspections: Everything You Need to Know

28 Nov 2023 Written by Naomi Stol Zamir

End-of-warranty (EoW) turbine inspections are carried out to evaluate wind turbines’ overall condition and performance as they approach the end of the manufacturer’s warranty period. 

An end of warranty inspection of wind turbines aims to identify any issues that are justifiably covered by the warranty and file a claim before you need to cover repairs internally. The exact steps involved in your EoW inspections depend on the nature of the warranty.

Overall, end-of-warranty inspections can cover a wide range of components, such as:

  • Structural components (the tower, blades, and foundation)
  • Electrical components (wiring, control systems, and connectors)
  • Performance testing
  • Lubrication and oil analysis 

We’ll be focusing primarily on inspecting structural components for an EoW today, as that’s where our autonomous drone inspection software shines. However, stay aware that your EoW processes may also need to include items beyond structural components.

So, let’s dive into why EoW inspections are crucial for your organization and how to carry them out effectively.

 

Why End-of-Warranty Inspections of Wind Turbine Are Critical

EoW inspections are necessary for wind farm management for multiple critical reasons, including the following:

  • Identify defects or failures early: EoW inspections aim to identify any defects that developed during the warranty period and are covered under its terms. Catching these issues early on avoids taking on repair costs and helps extend the turbine’s lifespan. Ideally, wind turbine inspection cost will be significantly offset by warranty claims.
  • Performance evaluation: A common goal of inspections is to make sure turbines are operating effectively. Defects, damage, and wear and tear may degrade performance. Evaluating performance degradation and identifying the issue might let you file a claim before the warranty expires.
  • Maximize turbine longevity: Regular inspections and maintenance are critical to keeping the wind turbine in operating condition for as long as possible. EoW inspections are the final opportunity to have the OEM cover any possible repairs that help extend the turbine’s lifespan.

 

Ultimately, the goal of EoW is to keep wind turbines operating effectively without incurring costs for repairs that would otherwise be discovered after the warranty period.

 

Common Structural Components for EoW Inspection

What should your technicians focus on for EoW inspections? You’ll need to review the warranty itself to make informed decisions about what to inspect, as spending time on non-covered components takes away from the goal.

Additionally, it’s important to thoroughly document identified issues to streamline the claims process, as evidence is necessary. Some of the common structural components to inspect include:

  • Turbine blades: Thoroughly inspect the turbine blades for any erosion, cracks, or structural damage.
  • Nacelle: The nacelle is responsible for housing the gearbox and generator. Check for any alignment issues, signs of damage, and overall structural integrity.
  • Tower: Cracks, deformities, or damage in the tower can quickly create severe issues for the turbine. 

 

It’s vital to base your wind turbine inspection areas on what’s covered by the warranty, which may include more components than we explored above. Take the time to inspect all covered components without focusing on other parts of the turbine.

 

When Should You Begin End-of-Warranty Inspections?

It’s crucial to schedule EoW inspections with enough time to allow technicians to conduct thorough inspections prior to the warranty’s expiration. On top of the inspections themselves, you also need enough time to interpret data and prepare claim reports.

You also need to manage the scheduling to minimize the impact of lost energy generation since turbines must be taken down for inspections. We’ll explore the importance of planning more below.

 

Actions to be taken pre and post inspection

Ensuring a seamless transition from pre-inspection preparations to post-inspection actions is crucial for optimizing end-of-warranty wind turbine inspections. To guide you through this process, here’s a comprehensive checklist encompassing essential steps before and after the inspection, ensuring thorough data collection, analysis, and timely claims processing. 

 

Pre-Inspection Checklist

1.Thorough Warranty Documentation Review: 

  • Ensure a comprehensive understanding of warranty terms and conditions. 
  • Identify specific components covered and any exclusions. 
  1. Historical Performance Data Collection:
  • Gather detailed records of turbine performance over the warranty period.
  • Highlight any recurring issues or performance fluctuations.
  1. Logistics and Access Arrangements:
  • Schedule transportation of inspection crew and equipment.
  • Coordinate with site owners for safe and efficient turbine access.

 

Post-Inspection checklist:

  1. Detailed Report Generation:
  • Compile a comprehensive report detailing all inspection findings and observations.
  • Include high-quality visuals, such as images or videos, to enhance clarity.
  1. Root Cause Analysis:
  • Conduct a thorough analysis to determine the root causes of identified issues
  • Provide insights into whether issues are isolated or indicative of broader concerns.
  1. Recommendations for Rectification:
  • Clearly outline recommended actions to address each identified issue.
  • Prioritize recommendations based on urgency and potential impact on wind turbine performance.
  1. Claim Documentation and Submission:
  • Prepare detailed documentation supporting each identified issue.
  • Ensure all necessary information for warranty claims is accurate and well-documented.
  • Submit claims promptly, adhering to any specified timelines in the warranty agreement.
  1. Performance and Maintenance Record Update:
  • Update maintenance logs with information on actions taken post-inspection.
  • Document any changes made to enhance turbine performance or prevent future issues.

 

Best Practices for End of Warranty Wind Turbine Inspection

EoW inspections vary from typically scheduled inspections since you’re focusing on finding possible defects or other covered issues rather than evaluating the overall health of the turbine. So, let’s discuss some key best practices to help guide your efforts.

  • Comprehensive Analysis

EoW inspections require a comprehensive analysis of inspection data; otherwise, there’s a greater chance of pushback from OEMs. Inspections should capture all necessary data, which is then meticulously analyzed to identify underlying issues.

Advanced data analytics allows you to better understand operational patterns, signs of possible wear and tear, and overall efficiency levels. Comprehensive data analytics is helpful both for EoW inspections and for having data-driven insights into turbine overall maintenance. 

  • Plan Early and Thoroughly

It’s critical to plan EoW inspections far enough in advance to allow technicians to complete them and file any claims. You should also consider how long it may take the OEM to process the warranty claim.

Planning should include understanding the specific warranty terms, scheduling inspections with enough time to complete each one before moving on, and time to document any identified issues. You should also use efficient wind turbine blade inspection methods to keep inspections on schedule.

Don’t wait until your warranty is about to expire to get started — give your teams plenty of time to go through the process.

  • Inspect Covered Components

Most wind turbine inspections, whether an in-house wind turbine drone inspection or using a third-party, take a thorough approach to inspecting all or most critical components. However, EoW inspections should focus specifically on covered components.

These specific inspections have the goal of making the most of your warranty before it expires. As a result, inspections should focus on items covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Terms can include partial coverage, full coverage, and parts only coverage. Be aware of your warranty’s terms and plan inspections to focus on covered components.

  • Capture Detailed Documentation

All inspection findings must be thoroughly documented and recorded to avoid pushback from OEMs. When relevant, gather performance-related issues that further support the issue you’re filing the claim about. For example, a wind turbine blade inspection should take high resolution pictures of identified damage to provide with the claim.

Failing to provide enough documentation and evidence can result in claim denial, leaving you responsible for paying for repairs.

 

End-of-Warranty Inspections: Common Challenges to Expect

EoW inspections often encounter specific hurdles that can affect reaching the end goal of having identified issues covered by the OEM prior to warranty expiration. A few of these challenges to keep in mind as you proceed include the following:

  • Claim challenges by the OEM: Your claim may be challenged by the OEM, which may mean they need more information or the reported issue isn’t covered. Having a strong understanding of your warrant prior to conducting inspections and thoroughly documenting all identified issues will go far in avoiding OEM pushback. Additionally, schedule EoW inspections with enough time to respond to any claim challenges.
  • Adverse weather conditions: Every type of inspection can be interrupted by adverse weather, but EoW inspections are on a tight schedule, and weather can significantly disrupt planned inspections. You won’t always be able to predict disruptive weather, so instead, schedule your inspections with enough time to account for possible adverse conditions.
  • Limited access: Wind turbine locations can be remote, which creates logistical challenges to accessing them. It’s crucial to effectively plan logistics and access strategies in advance to avoid any difficulties when technicians travel to these locations for inspections.
  • Resource allocation: Allocating adequate resources is crucial for the success of EoW inspections. Resources include financial investment, personnel, and time for each inspection. Effectively allocating these resources is crucial to maximizing the business benefits of these inspections.
  • Tackling the task of efficient data management and interpretation: Any data discovered during the inspection must be appropriately managed and analyzed before being provided to the OEM. These processes require a robust data management system. You may provide all the correct data, but it may still be challenged if it’s not analyzed and summarized for the OEM claims department. Take the time to analyze inspection data to help move claims through the process before the warranty expires.

 

Partner with vHive to Streamline End-of-Warranty Inspections

End-of-warranty inspections can go far in improving your entire operation. However, they must be done efficiently and thoroughly; otherwise, your claim may not be approved before the warranty period ends. 

vHive provides an advanced AI-powered automated wind turbine inspection software developed to make inspections more efficient and accurate. Are you preparing for EoW inspections? Don’t wait too long – reach out to learn how vHive can simplify your next end-of-warranty inspection.

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