The WASP & HIVE units installed inside a wind turbine
A short video from the initial research trip
A short video from the initial research trip
Internal components in hydraulic tensioner
During ideation sketches and lego was used to visualize ideas
Internal components in WASP
Visual journey of the installment of WASP
What it does
WASP is an autonomous bolt & nut maintenance solution that for wind turbines that will continue to operate throughout the turbine’s life cycle. All maintenance data is overseen and documented through live-feedback to onshore operators.
Looking into offshore wind turbine bolt tensioning during research, maintenance work came up. The work flow of a service technician had some conditions had to be met for to be able to carry out maintenance. Conditions that could also be seen as pain points in daily routines. Time: A wind turbines takes 6 technicians 12h to inspect & service Weather: Cancelled/Delayed maintence due to harsh weather conditions Risks: Technicans are faced with a dangerous work environment Education: Technicians must have substantial training to understand all technology & risks Transport: To get to offshore wind turbine parks the team must travel by boat
How it works
A WASP unit is mounted on a rail in a wind turbine tower´s inner structure above the flange connecting it with another tower section piece. Slowly and steady working it through all of the 200+ bolts fastened over the flange WASP is using ultrasonic sensor measuring the tension in each bolt and evaluating if it needs re-tightening or not. If needed it uses a hydraulic tensioner to stretch the bolt and at the same time loosen the tension on the nut. With the nut loosened electric motors screws the nut to preferred tension. When low on battery the WASP unit will return to charging station, HIVE. HIVE is also a communication unit that receives and dispatch information between the operation units and a human supervisor on-shore. All data collected through the process is transferred to HIVE and sent to on-shore supervisors, which oversees and manage the data.
The initial part of the research was composed of visits to different companies working with heavy duty bolt and nut tensioning solutions for various purposes. The idea was to talk directly with the people working with these tools to get a better understanding of how they work and what might be the current limitation of the tools. I visited Atlas Copco and had the chance to talk to the engineers behind the tools. At kNm Hydraulikk I had the opportunity of observing demonstrations of different tools made by an bolt operator working at a variety of oil platforms in Norway. During my visit at Wepco, a service workshop for service gas pipe gasket and such, I was given presentations of which tools they use for their daily work. With the research and conclusions draw from it I used brainstorming workshops with others to widen my scope for ideation. Sketches and 3D modeling was used for visualizing my ideas. Lego was used for building functional representations of various technical & mechanical solutions. I was at the same time in a continual conversation with engineers at Atlas Copco, discussing different solutions for the technical package and placement of components. A physical model was built for a better understanding of shape, color and scale.
How it is different
What about maintenance system without the need of service technicians? Two different units that manage all the maintenance of the bolts & nuts. First the operating unit, WASP, which does the physical work of maintaining the bolts in the wind turbine tower. The second unit, HIVE, a communication unit that receives and dispatch information between the operation units and an operator on-shore. These two types of units would be placed inside the wind turbine at the time of assembly and last the whole wind turbine’s lifecycle, approximately 20-30 years. This way the documentation of bolts and nuts would be performed at the same time as the maintenance and sent to a database located on-shore. The system would be immune against rough weather conditions. It would also spare the need for education, safety equipment, transport, long working hours and avoid placing service technicians in potentially hazardous situations.
Going forward from here the project would need to be supported by collaborator with the necessary expertise in this field to validate components and overall system structure. The potential of the project have been under discussion with both Atlas Copco and Tentec.
Core77 Design Awards 2018 - Student Notable (Commercial Equipment Award)