Four Common Wind Turbine Inspection Challenges

First-Time Accuracy: Solutions to 4 Common Wind Turbine Inspection Challenges
Small amounts of blade damage or erosion can lead to significant efficiency loss. Inefficient blades don’t generate as much power, which decreases AEP year over year. As the U.S. ramps up wind energy production, every wind turbine needs to perform at maximum capacity – but how do you know when to repair blade damage? The answer lies in regular wind turbine inspections.

A quality drone inspection gives you the data you need to make educated decisions about your infrastructure, and advancements in technology are making inspection flights more and more efficient – but if data is not captured correctly, you’re left with gaps in your data. Capturing accurate data is more valuable than saving a few minutes in the field. Re-flying the inspection wastes time, money and resources.

There’s a better way. At BladeEdge℠, first-time accuracy is our priority. Our job is to put usable data into our clients’ hands quickly, accurately and cost-effectively, so they can make educated decisions on blade management. We’ve eliminated the need to re-fly inspections with the BladeEdge Controller Application℠ (BE-APP) and our BladeEdge Capture Assurance Tool℠ (BE-CAT). That means wind turbine inspection flights deliver accurate data the first time and every time, before you leave the turbine. These BladeEdge tools provide solutions to four common wind turbine inspection challenges.

Camera Settings
Drone inspections provide high-resolution images of wind turbine blades, but if the drone’s camera settings are off, the entire flight could be a wash. If the aperture is off, the resulting images could be out of focus. Overexposed images won’t show accurate detail. The wrong shutter speed could result in blurry photos.

The BladeEdge Controller App was designed to assess the camera’s settings and identify if anything needs to be adjusted. The Heads Up Display (pictured below) automatically shows warnings when it detects issues with the data being captured, giving the pilot a chance to adjust their camera settings before proceeding with the inspection. This results in higher quality imagery and fewer unusable inspections.


Image Overlap
The average blade is over 45 meters. That’s a lot of space to cover in an inspection flight – and a lot of opportunity for error. Inconsistent (or nonexistent) image overlap can lead to incomplete data or confusing results that are difficult to interpret.

Inspections flown with the BladeEdge Controller App have a controlled image capture at every ¾ meter. This allows the software to understand data overlap conditions and pixel spacing, distance from blade, camera resolution and more.

Incomplete Data
Nothing slows down the inspection process like failing to capture a complete data set. By the time the data is in your hands, the inspection crew is packed up and on the road. To fill the gaps, you have to schedule another inspection, crossing your fingers that nothing will be overlooked next time.

With BE-CAT, that hassle is completely eliminated. Once a flight is complete, the data can be manually uploaded to BE-CAT in the field. The software confirms the data and automatically packages it for further analysis by BladeEdge Analytics. We incorporate a ¼ meter overlap, creating a 1 square meter gridline allows the BladeEdge Analytics software to automatically pinpoint specific areas of the blade that require attention.

Consumable Data
Every inspection generates hundreds of images. Keeping track of all that data could be a full-time job in and of itself. Without accurate labels and filing, using inspection data becomes a seemingly impossible feat. With BladeEdge, you can use the data and improve your operations.

BE-CAT seamlessly packages data for an entire turbine into a single, well-labeled file. Not only is this file generated with intuitive file names for each image for every blade, it also includes geospatial information that helps BladeEdge Analytics create an accurate mosaic of each blade. With data on the altitude, pitch, yaw and roll of the camera, BladeEdge Analytics can understand the position of the blade on all four sides, so it can automatically pinpoint areas of damage and wear – leaving no question where the damage lies.


Get More from Your Inspections
BladeEdge capture solutions are a game-changer for aerial wind turbine blade inspections. The tools provide inspection operators with valuable insight in the field and facilitates the capture of accurate data on every square centimeter of a blade with a single turbine stop. Quality data drives quality results and using BE-APP and BE-CAT in the field is the first step in getting more from every inspection.

Get a first-hand look at the BladeEdge Controller Application and BladeEdge Capture Assurance Tool interfaces in our new product overview.