Working together, vessel owner Esvagt, offshore wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Gamesa and developer Ørsted are developing a drone-based solution to deliver spare parts and tools from a vessel to offshore wind turbines
Esvagt head of business development Flemming Hjorth said, “A technician is wasting time if critical tools or critical spare parts are not available to him.
“When we transfer a turbine technician from a vessel to a turbine, he brings spare parts and tools with him. But it often happens that the technician needs additional equipment, tools or spare parts. Today, such a scenario requires the vessel to return to the turbine or that we send a transfer boat over to it with the necessary gear, which the technician then has to climb down and get. This process can definitely be optimised.”
The companies are working with subcontractors on a solution that would see drones deliver packages weighing up to 3-4 kg directly to the nacelle of a turbine.
“Most often, it is the small spare parts that make a difference, smaller electrical components or a specific tool,” said Mr Hjorth. “Delivering these with a drone could potentially save a lot of time and make operating an offshore windfarm even more efficient.”
However, as Esvagt put it, doing so wouldn’t be ‘a walk in the park,‘ with issues such as rotating blades to take into consideration. The SOV isn’t stationary either.
“Our ambition is to use a drone to transport spare parts between two points, following a route that will be adjusted along the way. It is complex, even when using skilled drone pilots, and it becomes even more demanding once you add in the changing weight of the cargo and the impact of the wind. But the potential is extremely interesting,” said Mr Hjorth.
The ‘Operative package deliveries by drones’ project is sponsored by the European Regional Development Fund and runs until June 2020.
In 2019, the shipping company also formed the joint venture EWPL Ocean, which uses drones to inspect blades piloted from its vessels.
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