A new company says it has a better way to inspect, maintain, and repair wind turbine blades and towers. TGM Wind Services, Abilene, Texas, uses North America’s tallest aerial utility platforms coupled with on-board, phased array ultrasonic sensors. Company technicians can drive the lift right up to a turbine and, in a matter of minutes, be fully operational and able to access overhead areas up to 90m above ground level. These capabilities result in faster, safer, and more accurate inspection and maintenance at a lower cost than other methods. The units have been used in Europe for the past several years.
TGM recently placed orders with Bronto Skylift, a manufacturer of high-reach truck mounted aerial devices, for two Model S 90 HLA (high level articulated) “aerials” for delivery later this year. They will be the tallest aerial work platforms working in North America. The only taller machine is the 104 m Bronto S 104 HLA, and TGM says it plans to order at least one of those for delivery in next year along with “a couple more S 90 HLAs.”
From the time a Bronto is driven onto a site it can be positioned, set-up and elevated to the overhead area in 15 to 20 minutes or less thanks in part to their advanced controls and one-button automatic leveling of the outriggers. Compared to other methods on a multi-tower site, this one can save considerable time and cost in transportation and set-up alone.
In addition, TGM performs phased-array ultrasonic inspections on in-service turbines. Phased array ultrasonic inspection is a preferred technique used by many turbine manufacturers to check for defects prior to shipment and delivery. The capability lets the company assess weld integrity on tower sections, locate bonding or laminating defects within a turbine blade, and provide reports on possible defects or structural damage. “These high-reach work platforms with on-board phased array ultrasonics let us work more productively and reduce our customers’ overall maintenance costs,” says TGM VP Kevin Darby. “More importantly, because our technicians are working from the enclosed platform of an elevated aerial device rather than from a basket suspended from a crane or by repelling down from the hub, we’re doing it a whole lot safer.”