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 of whom have been working in the inspection department for four years, talk about a smart companion, disappearing mountains of paper and why the 2-in-1 rule will soon apply to periodic inspections and lightning protection measurements.

The smartphone is quickly whipped 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 checking the news or weather forecasts. They are at the Randowhöhe wind farm and open the Powersystem inspection app. After all, why shouldn't they be able to carry out the periodic inspection of a Südwind S77 using an app? The aim is the same for every WKP: to document all deviations and defects that jeopardize the functionality and stability of the turbines and to inform operators and insurers of these by means of reports.

Formerly a wind field plan, now a navigation system. Whereas they once had to print out the wind field plans before an inspection day in order to plan the route to the turbines, today the app's navigation function conveniently guides them to their destination. This saves time and unnecessary paper printouts.

Different types of plant? Preconfigured log templates. Another function that offers enormous time-saving potential is the preconfigured report templates. This is because each type of system presents the two inspectors with different specifics and "sensitivities" on site, which they have to take into account during the inspection. "The app streamlines the preparation work in advance because we can select the right report template for the respective system type," explains Rabe. "We download them into the app for the turbine to be inspected before we arrive and only the information that is relevant for this turbine is shown or requested during the inspection." An example: For an ENERCON turbine, there are no points in the application for the "Gearbox" section, as no gearbox train is installed in this type of turbine. The app "knows" this.

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 the inspectors step by step through the individual log points - clearly and in a structured manner. In the event of a deviation, they can immediately add photos and notes to the report. No question: much more efficient than before, when the information still had to be laboriously typed into the computer in the office, the photos transferred from the camera and everything correctly merged.   

The app's biggest ace: saving time at the end. "The Powersystem inspection app shows its greatest advantage in the follow-up phase. 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 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 13 to 14-page Excel document that used to be printed out is a thing of the past. With the app, the final report is generated with a simple click and sent to the customer. "The customer receives all relevant information clearly, promptly and cost-effectively," summarizes inspector Gall.

What's better than having time? Even more time. It's not just the app that streamlines inspection processes. The drone technology that will be used in 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 measuring lightning protection that will be used universally from 2022. Rotor blades of any size can 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. Alongside the Powersystem inspection app, this is good news for wind farm operators and developers planning new wind farm projects with more powerful and larger turbines.

For PV and wind systems

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

Which operational management software is required?

That doesn't matter. Our Powersystem inspection app works well with other operational management systems.



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