In the wind field: inspections with the smartphone

ENERTRAG Betrieb carries out 3,250 inspections on wind turbines every year. Christian Rabe and Robert Gall, both employees in the inspection department for four years, talk about a smart companion, mountains of paper that have disappeared, and why the 2-in-1 rule will soon apply to periodic inspections and lightning protection measurements.

The smartphone is quickly pulled out. We carry countless videos, photos and apps around with us in our handy everyday companion. This morning, however, Robert Gall and Christian Rabe are not calling up news or weather forecasts. They are standing at the Randowhöhe wind farm and opening the Powersystem inspection app. After all, why shouldn't they also be able to perform the periodic inspection (WKP) on a Südwind S77 using an app? The goal is the same for every WKP: document all deviations and defects that endanger the functionality and stability of the turbines and inform operators and insurers about them by means of protocols.

Formerly a wind field plan, today a navigator. Whereas they once had to print out wind field maps before an inspection day to plan the route to the turbines, today the navigation function of the app conveniently guides them to their vicinity. That saves time and unnecessary paper printouts.

Different facility types? Preconfigured log templates. Another feature that brings enormous time-saving potential is the preconfigured protocol templates. After all, each type of plant presents the two inspectors with different specifics and "sensitivities" on site that they must take into account during the inspection. "The app streamlines the preparation effort in advance because we can select the appropriate protocol template for the respective plant type," explains Rabe. "We download it in the app for the turbine to be inspected before we get there, and during the inspection, only the information relevant to that turbine is shown or queried." For example: for an ENERCON turbine, there are no points in the app for the "gearbox" section, since no gearbox train is installed in these types of turbines. The app "knows" that.

Practical tool: Inspector Robert Gall photographs a chipped coating and saves the defect with the necessary information directly in the Powersystem inspection app.


Step by step. The app guides inspectors step by step through the individual protocol points - clearly and structured. In the event of a discrepancy, they can instantly enrich the log with photos and notes. There's no question about it: much more efficient than in the past, when the information had to be typed into the computer in the office, the photos had to be transferred from the camera, and everything had to be brought together correctly.   

The app's biggest ace: saving time at the end. "It's in the follow-up phase that the Powersystem inspection app shows its greatest advantage. This is where we really save time," explains Robert Gall. "The information collected during the inspection is already digitally documented in the app. For us, this means that we check the information one last time in the office and add recommendations for action." In very concrete terms, the time saved by using the Powersystem app can be up to 80 percent for a WKP. Other resources are also saved: the previous, printed 13 to 14-page Excel document is a thing of the past. With the app, the final protocol is generated straightforwardly with a click and sent to the customer. "The customer receives all the relevant information clearly, promptly and cost-effectively," sums up inspector Gall.

What is better than having time? Even more time. It's not just the app that streamlines inspection processes. The drone technology used in the future for lightning protection measurements as part of rotor blade inspections will also play its part. ENERTRAG Betrieb has developed an innovative and realistic method for lightning protection measurements that will be used universally from 2022. Rotor blades of any size can thus be completely recorded with high-resolution imaging and a wide detection field - and without contact. This is not only more accurate, but also more efficient in terms of route planning and downtimes. At the same time, the process is legally accepted by insurance companies. This - in addition to the Powersystem inspection app - is good news for wind farm operators and developers planning new wind farm projects with more powerful and larger turbines.


For PV and wind plants

The Powersystem inspection app can be used not only for inspections on wind turbines, but also for those on PV plants.

Which operational management software is necessary?
It does not matter. Our Powersystem inspection app gets along well with other operations management systems.

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