Partners plan to work together to develop applications for the use of drones in the wind energy sector.
Lufthansa Aerial Services (LAS) and the Nordex Group have formed a strategic partnership to jointly develop applications for the use of drones in the inspection of wind turbines. Using state-of-the-art technology, the project will bring benefits for Nordex customers in terms of efficiency, quality, safety and innovation.
The Nordex Group has been active in the wind industry for 30 years now and is one of the most experienced specialist companies in the industry. The group has operations in over 25 countries and is one of the leading manufacturers of wind energy turbines in the global on-shore market. Their core business includes the development of modern plants, as well as the production, construction and long term servicing of wind parks. With LAS, the Lufthansa Group is moving into a new area of business, and the company is part of Lufthansa Consulting GmbH. They provide commercial operation of drones for the inspection, surveying and monitoring of infrastructure facilities, as well as the management of data associated with this. Wind energy is one of the main sectors of industry which LAS will be focussing on.
“The market potential for the commercial use of drones in the wind energy sector is growing rapidly. Thanks to our cooperation with a partner as strong as Nordex, we can develop innovative solutions which will meet the needs of the wind industry in the best possible way. As well as the close inspection of rotor blades, another area of application is progress monitoring during the construction of new wind parks”, explains Dr. Andreas Jahnke, managing director of Lufthansa Consulting.
“Lufthansa Aerial Services is an ideal partner for the Nordex Group: LAS is able to draw on the many years of experience of the Lufthansa Group in aviation, especially in the maintenance of complex systems. It therefore has the expertise for us that is indispensable for professional collaboration. On the basis of the large quantity of very precise data that LAS will provide us with on the regular inspection flights we will be able to make detailed analyses as well as optimise our turbines and our service. This will bring us even closer to our target of a lower cost of energy,” says Bo Moerup, Head of Global Service at the Nordex Group.
One of the first pilot projects carried out in cooperation between LAS and the Nordex Group was for the close inspection of rotor blades on wind energy plants using a multicopter. As with aeroplanes, the rotor blades must be inspected regularly, as they are exposed to strong winds, heavy weather conditions, and high levels of centrifugal force. Using industrial drones which are equipped with safety-related redundancy systems, the LAS drones fly along the rotor blades and, while doing so, generate a set of high resolution pictures of the surface. The photographic material produced makes it possible to make detailed inspection of, survey and document any common symptoms of wear and tear, such as cracks in the structure, or abrasion of the leading edge of the blade. In addition to this, LAS carries out a photometric preparation of data and categorisation of the damage involved. Through this, the dimensions of the area of damage, as well as the exact position on the rotor blade can be better established. Quick response and specific maintenance and repair instructions can then be made possible. Through the repeated capturing of data of an entire wind park, it is also possible for the ageing process of the facilities to be tracked. The operating company can thus determine at what interval a rotor blade needs to be inspected and serviced, and can thus carry out maintenance in a more pro-active way.
Lufthansa Aerial Services delivers commercial drone-supported services for large infrastructure customers and institutions who have a need for aerial inspection procedures, monitoring and surveying in difficult areas, or in areas which can only be accessed with associated danger. LAS produces analyses on the basis of the pictures taken/data material collected, so that customers can be quickly provided with figures and information regarding weaknesses or defects in the infrastructure. LAS customers are finding that there are advantages in terms of data quality, speed of process and thus less downtime, costs, operational safety, as well as being more environmentally friendly – and all on the foundation of the values of the Lufthansa group brand – safety, quality, reliability, and more than 60 years of experience in flight operations and technology, as well as advisory and consulting expertise.