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Tokyo, Japan - October 18, 2023 - SENSYN ROBOTICS and Hitachi Power Solutions, Ltd. have jointly developed a tower inspection system for wind power generation facilities with automatic drone flight capabilities for wind power generation operators and facility managers.
Image of tower inspection using a drone
Main tower welds to be inspected
The system is designed to improve the inspection of damaged or deteriorated areas on the outside of wind power generation facilities' towers, reducing inspection time to 1/10th of the conventional time*1 and improving facility safety by improving inspection quality. In this joint development, Hitachi Power Solutions combined the maintenance expertise it has cultivated in the wind power business with the robotics technology of Senshin Robotics, which has extensive experience using industrial drones, to develop a system that improves the quality and efficiency of tower inspections for wind power generation facilities, an area of growing need. The two companies developed this system to improve the quality and efficiency of tower inspections for wind power generation facilities, which is a growing need.
The two companies will start offering the newly developed tower inspection system as a new inspection service for wind power generation facilities on December 1. In addition, the two companies will promote the development of a system that enables expansion of inspection functions and integrated management by combining it with the system used in the Blade Total Service, which will be available from April 1, 2022, with the aim of further upgrading the system.
*1 Demonstration tests conducted on ENERCON's wind power generation facilities confirmed that the inspection time per tower can be reduced to 1/10 of the time required by our service engineers using the conventional method.
The introduction and expansion of wind power generation facilities is accelerating toward the realization of a carbon-neutral society. On the other hand, wind power generation facilities owned by power producers, who were among the first to engage in renewable energy projects in the 2000s, are required to undergo highly reliable inspections since the standard durability period of about 20 years has passed, and damage due to age-related deterioration can occur, leading to accidents. In addition, in April 2023, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) requested power generation companies to conduct urgent inspections on the risk of collapse due to aging welding on the towers of wind power generation facilities.
On the other hand, tower inspections of wind power generation facilities are mainly conducted from the ground using telescopes and cameras during regular and monthly inspections, and when an abnormality is identified, a detailed inspection is conducted by a specialist engineer approaching with a crane or rope access, so a method to improve inspection accuracy, shorten inspection time, and reduce workload A method to improve inspection accuracy, shorten inspection time, and reduce workload was required.
Hitachi Power Solutions and Senshin Robotics have jointly developed a blade inspection system utilizing drones and AI for wind power generation companies, and will start offering this service*2 to improve the safety and stable operation of facilities as one of Hitachi's Lumada*3 solutions from April 1, 2022. The service*2 has been available since April 1, 2022 as one of Hitachi's Lumada*3 solutions.
*2 A service to properly maintain and manage blades that combines a blade inspection system jointly developed by Hitachi Power Solutions and Senshin Robotics, which uses drones and AI to achieve highly accurate inspections, with the maintenance planning and repair expertise that Hitachi Power Solutions has cultivated in the wind power business.
*3 Lumada: A generic name for solutions, services and technologies that leverage Hitachi's advanced digital technologies to create value from customers' data and accelerate digital innovation.
Features of the Tower Inspection System
(1) Reduces inspection time and workload to 1/10 of conventional systems
By setting information on the target facility, flight route, and shooting points in the inspection system, the drone's automatic flight function allows photographing of damaged and deteriorated areas outside the tower. Compared to the conventional inspection method, which requires approximately 5 hours for a specialist engineer to approach the tower with a crane or rope access when an abnormality is confirmed during an inspection from the ground, the new system reduces the inspection time to 1/10. In addition, since the inspection does not require inspections at high elevations as with the conventional method, the workload is reduced and safety is ensured.
(2) Automatic generation of flight routes according to product specifications and site information of wind power generation equipment
Drone flight routes are automatically generated by registering the product specifications of the wind power generation equipment required for inspection and site information such as the installation location (latitude and longitude) of the subject equipment as master data. This makes it possible to always acquire images of the same location and range for the same equipment. In addition, since the site information and flight position are recorded in the captured images, it is possible to compare the equipment condition with past data under the same conditions, check the progress of damage, and manage inspection records appropriately, thereby supporting the planning of optimal maintenance plans.
Image of drone flight route
(3) High-quality inspections through high-resolution photography by a drone from five directions
The drone can automatically fly and take high-definition images of the tower exterior from five directions, enabling inspection of the entire tower and detailed confirmation of the location and size of damaged or deteriorated areas, including avoiding blind spots caused by blades, compared to the conventional method of checking from the ground using telescopes and cameras.
Example taken from 5 directions
About SENSYN ROBOTICS
SENSYN ROBOTICS provides the guidance to organizations who seek digital transformations by laying out a DX platform tailored to the organization's needs.
We invest our time to bring DX to social infrastructures.
Our mission is to “evolve what we take for granted in society through the power of robotics”. We strive to solve challenges which businesses and societies face with the assistance of robotic technologies such as drones. We use our expertise to provide technologies and solutions to solve numerous challenges ranging from labor shortage, error prevention, safety improvement, to prompt countermeasures in the event of disasters.
We pledge to provide comprehensive support from project design (PD) to proof of concept (PoC), up to the implementation of services in real world applications.
Our aim at SENSYN ROBOTICS is to use the power of robotics and AI to solve social issues.