In 2015, Cyberhawk was approached by one of the UK’s largest energy suppliers. The brief was to inspect more than 100 wind turbines throughout the company’s Scottish and Irish wind farms, with minimal loss of operational downtime and in timescales that would allow them to meet yearly inspection targets.
The work included close visual inspections of the leading edge, training edge, pressure and suction sides of each blade. Specific locations and sizing of each defect were essential in order to determine the damage and prioritise the maintenance required.
Cyberhawk’s asset management software, iHawk, allowed the client to quickly understand the condition of its wind farms and access high definition images of the entire blade surface of every turbine, as well as engineering commentary. These images also allowed the client to see the severity of the defect for themselves, and ultimately prioritise repairs and allocate budgets.
Traditionally, the inspections would have been carried out using rope access technicians, however this technique increases man hours on site and in turn, increases the risk and likelihood of injury. The use of UAVs mitigated these risks, and also meant reduced downtime for the client. One of Cyberhawk’s key USPs is the ability to inspect three to five turbines per day, compared with rope access which will typically only inspect one.
The client also reported that Cyberhawk’s technology made a significant improvement to project safety. On at least two occasions, turbines were not re-started on site after an inspection was carried out and revealed a safety critical defect.
Cyberhawk’s certified technicians and trained inspection engineers allowed the inspections to take place with minimal client supervision. The client reported a high level of confidence in the autonomous role given to the company’s inspection teams and based on this, as well as other positive feedback, Cyberhawk has been given the opportunity to perform a larger work scope in 2016.