By: Philip Buchan, Commercial Director at Cyberhawk
“Our inspection solution represents a huge leap forward for drone technology. IHawk is dramatically improving asset management, providing high quality and detailed reports for our clients, while our pioneering technology offers significant safety improvements. These come hand-in- hand with reduced costs and quicker inspection times—all of which are being increasingly recognised by wind farm operators both onshore and offshore.” Philip Buchan, Commercial Director at Cyberhawk.
Cyberhawk Innovations, the world leader in aerial inspection using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and a pioneer in the conversion of drone-captured data into powerful asset management information, has built up a great deal of experience in the wind sector over the last three years, having inspected thousands of turbine blades and numerous meteorological masts at offshore wind farms in the UK.
In April 2016, the company successfully completed a close visual inspection project on Forewind’s Dogger Bank meteorological masts using UAVs. The project saw a Cyberhawk team of offshore UAV pilots and an inspection engineer mobilise to the Round 3 development site to undertake UAV inspections of two meteorological masts.
The inspection of wind turbines and, in particular, wind turbine blades brings significant challenges to operators. Blades are difficult to access, so traditional access methods such as rope access or elevated platforms are used—but these techniques are costly and time consuming, requiring technicians to work at height. These problems are only emphasised when it comes to inspecting offshore turbines.
Philip Buchan, commercial director at Cyberhawk, explains: “Dogger Bank is a particularly challenging offshore wind site and the furthest offshore wind project from UK shores. Our team took just one day per mast to successfully complete the inspections, significantly improving safety levels and demonstrating that professionally operated UAVs can capture equal if not more detailed results than personnel would be able to achieve.”
Each UAV captures huge amounts of photographic data. One of the biggest challenges Cyberhawk faces is how to deliver this huge volume of data in a way that allows an asset manager to quickly and easily understand the condition of their assets and make decisions.
In response to this challenge, Cyberhawk has developed a browser-based visual asset management software called iHawk. The cloud-based software allows users to intuitively access the valuable inspection information captured by UAVs using a simple map-based interface and clear traffic light asset status that enables findings to be “drilled into” and high-definition images and commentary to be viewed.
The significant increase in renewable projects has seen Cyberhawk operate in six different countries throughout Europe, completing projects for clients such as SSE, RWE, Engie, Siemens, Vestas, EDPR, Repsol, and Dong Energy.