- An alternative to field repair, factory restoration service can be a smart choice in many situations -
The science of repairing wind turbine blades in the field has seen significant advances during the last five years as a result of improvements in diagnostic tools, materials, equipment and technician training. That model however still has intrinsic limitations because blades are frequently injured beyond the ability of field repair crews to economically or safely restore them to optimum working condition. A new alternative approach to field repair – factory repair and restoration - is successfully extending productive life and value to previously doomed blades. "In the factory it's possible to restore even seriously damaged blades to "like new" condition faster than even the most talented field repair team," according to Gary Kanaby, director of marketing and sales for MFG Energy Services (MFG ES).
How Does It Work? Damaged blades are shipped to a repair factory and carefully inspected upon arrival. Skilled technicians perform the restoration work, after which the blades are transported back to the operator's site. In instances where a repetitive problem is diagnosed, the factory engineering team has the resources to perform forensic analysis, recommend and often perform advanced restoration. The blades return to the operators' wind farm or inventory facility with full documentation.
Unlike work performed in the field, factory repairs are executed in a clean, controlled environment at a regulated temperature, ensuring that resins and materials cure properly. Also of high importance, engineering and quality assurance professionals proficient in OEM standards are on-premise to guide the repair work.
When it's possible for blades to be repaired in situ, factory service is generally not the optimum solution. However, repairs that involve opening up major sections of the blade – exposing it to contamination from precipitation or wind born debris, are a natural for factory work. Whenever safety risk is high (e.g., dangerous weather conditions) or the nature of the repairs requires crane removal anyway, weighing the tradeoffs is worthwhile. A thorough cost analysis of transportation from site to factory against the expense of mobilizing a technician team, the risks and limitations of field work, and the projected life extension of the blades often supports an economic case for factory repair.
Kanaby explains that factory repair service has not been widely available from O&M service companies because few are affiliated with new blade manufacturing. As part of MFG Wind, a blade manufacturer of longstanding, MFG ES provisions their factory repairs through MFG's state-of-the-art blade factories in Gainesville, Texas and Aberdeen, South Dakota. Information on MFG Energy Services can be found at www.mfgEnergyServices.com. The company will be exhibiting and presenting at the AWEA Wind Project O&M and Safety Seminar, January 15-16, 2014 in San Diego, CA.