It’s Time To Take Maintenance Seriously
Wear and tear, sand, bugs, strikes of lightning and not to mention winter itself all affect the need for blade maintenance. Experts in the field say it has to be done on a yearly basis, but that is not always the reality. The Finnish company Bladefence is curing blades with a new method that could make it happen.
– If you repair the blades with conventional methods, it can take up to 24 hours to cure. In our method the curing time is significantly lower, we are talking about full cure in less than 5 minutes, says Ville Karkkolainen, managing director for the Finnish company Bladefence. Bladefence specialize in wind turbine blade inspections, maintenance and repairs.
The method Ville Karkkolainen is talking about is a combination of Renuvo UV light curing system and sky lift equipment. It’s a resin system where they use UV-light to heal the worn blades. Ville Karkkolainen explains the method in a clear manner.
– UV, it’s like when you go to the dentist, we use the same light…
And then continues…
– It’s a modified epoxy resistance. Before, the blades where cured with heat. But this has nothing to do with heat, we only use light, says Karkkolainen.
A Wider Time Frame
The quickness of this method also gives a much wider weather window to operate in. When I reach Ville Karkkolainen on October 10, he’s on his way to the airport, catching a flight to a wind park in Haparanda, Sweden.
– There are some significant advantages with this method. We are the last company in the world to operate this time of the year that far up north. With our method we can operate to + 5 Celsius and with 90 percent relative humidity, which is essential in the Nordic countries.
– These kinds of technological change also drive on new industry culture. As new, faster options become available we can introduce a new kind of attitude towards blade maintenance in the market.
– Well, the attitude towards blade repairs has been almost bizarre. Because the blades are high up and hard to access, blade repairs have traditionally been quite time consuming and expensive. This has led to a culture of last resort repairing. We want to come to the scene and inspect the blades every year. But in many cases we are called in a lot later. Quite often we have seen turbines in very bad conditions. In Finland we actually saw a blade repaired with duct tape. It’s crazy.
So what is changing now?
– During recent years it has become obvious that not only gearboxes but also wind turbine blades require regular, high quality maintenance. I think we are moving towards a common best practice in the market where the blades are maintained yearly and not only when it’s absolutely necessary.
– If you take care of the blades, and they are regularly maintained and repaired, I see no reason why the blades wouldn’t last for twenty years.
Meet Bladefence At Winterwind 2013
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Bladefence is a specialist for wind turbine blade inspections, maintenance and repairs. Bladefence utilizes skylift equipment and UV-curing blade repair method for operations in Nordic weather conditions with minimum turbine downtime. The company was certified by Germanischer Lloyd for blade repairs in 2012 as a first company in the Nordic countries.