Wed, 04 December, 2019
MIMRee is a project that aligns very closely with the evolution of Plant Integrity. We are known globally as a provider of non-destructive testing solutions to a wide range of industries including, Oil and Gas, Engineering and Fabrication, Power and Rail. Our company is fast moving towards automated testing solutions, and this is where we can help the offshore wind industry in its own automation drive.
The offshore environment offers the clearest example of the benefits of automated inspections. This is a hazardous environment, where turbines are subjected to constant corrosive attack from wind, wave and weather, as well as enduring extreme mechanical forces.
Inspection is still almost entirely manual, conducted by rope-access technicians whose work is limited to safe weather windows when waves are low enough for them to access the turbines safely. Planned missions can be delayed for weeks or technicians may be forced to evacuate if lightning strikes are imminent.
If we can move humans to onshore supervisory roles, and move robotics into the manual roles, we believe we can drastically reduce wind farm operational costs, remove health and safety risks to the workforce and increase component lifetimes through better monitoring. This is the best of both worlds: human judgement combined with machine efficiency.
By the time MIMRee concludes (in mid-2021), it will demonstrate the art of the possible in automation offshore: autonomous drones, blade crawling robots and unmanned boats capable of initiating and conducting an inspect-and-repair mission.
The unmanned boat will scan rotating wind turbine blades from a distance and identify potential defects. If further inspection is required, it will launch its drones carrying robots to the surface for close-up inspection and remedial action, such as resurfacing the blades’ leading edge.
Plant Integrity’s innovation will be to create the non-destructive testing (NDT) payload for the system. Our investigations are focussed on how we can integrate advanced imaging devices and automated image analysis techniques into the MIMRee system.
This is the engineering challenge for our team, and it is one that we are enjoying tackling!