An advanced robot from BladeBUG can inspect wind turbine blades in half the time it would take a human rope access technician, the company says. BladeBug can complete the tasks in 35 minutes.

The BladeBUG provides a fast, safe and cost-effective alternative to rope access technicians inspecting blades. For onshore turbines, a ground-up approach for deployment is used. The robot is attached at ground level to a rope lowered by a technician from the top of the turbine, then hoisted into place to inspect the blade. Rigging up the BladeBUG is simple – one end of the rope is attached to a power descender on the ground, then goes up to the top to a pulley and back down to the robot. A top-down approach to deployment works best for offshore turbines.

Because the BladeBUG does not need to be hauled to the top of the turbine, valuable time is saved when carrying out necessary onshore inspections. All processes required to rig and operate the BladeBUG can be managed by operations technicians with basic GWO Working at Height training. The technicians on the tag lines communicate via radios with those operating the power descender to hoist the robot to the correct part of the blade.

“We designed the BladeBUG to reduce costly turbine shutdowns for our wind energy clients. As the UK focuses its energy supply on renewable sources such as wind farms, it is imperative these projects operate as efficiently as possible,” said Chris Cieslak, Director and Founder at BladeBug. “Once our team has arrived on site, unloaded the BladeBUG and carried out our safety checks, the robot will be attached to a blade and carrying out inspections in a little over half an hour. While vacuumed onto a turbine blade the BladeBUG is able to walk around to any areas of interest.

“Because the robot can be navigated to different locations on huge blades very quickly, this reduces turbine downtime. The BladeBUG also provides cost savings for wind farm operators as it removes the need for employing rope access teams and allows preventative maintenance to be carried out at an earlier stage to increase turbine efficiency,” Cieslak concluded.

The latest round of testing was successfully carried out at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland, England.

News item from BladeBUG

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