In recent years, wind energy which has to do with the process of using wind to generate electricity is gaining big importance. This industry has had great development but at the same time has encountered many challenges that have to do in most cases with wind turbines. One issue that this industry is facing is the inspections of these wind turbines which are of crucial importance as they need constant monitoring and maintenance to ensure that they are working at optimum efficiency. Since turbines play a crucial role in this industry, systematic maintenance and regular inspections are essential. At the same time, the high cost of these inspections but also the lack of expertise due to various factors make them difficult to maintain.
As mentioned above, an inspection of the condition of wind turbines is vital at various stages of the project’s life cycle in this industry. In case of damage to a turbine, then even its operation is not efficient and results in a loss of electricity generation and a loss of money. Augmented Reality (AR) technology comes as a tool that facilitates many processes and aims to put an end to the challenges that not only the wind industry but also many other industries are facing. AR is already empowering remote assistance through software applications that merge digital (audio and other types also) content into the user’s real-world environment.
Let’s see below some of the ways AR remote assistance is aiming to bring about a wave of change in the way turbine inspections are inspected and maintained more efficiently.
Interactive and cost-effective solution
Initially, it was worth mentioning that wind turbines generally require preventative maintenance checkups two to three times per year. At the same time, in-person manual inspections are subject to human error and can take up to a full day for a single tower. In these conditions, AR remote assistance enables effective and highly interactive communication between a center expert and a worker who is conducting the field inspection. This communication is possible in real-time and gives the center team the opportunity to see exactly what the field worker sees. It strengthens communication and real-time cooperation by preventing problems that may be encountered but also by providing solutions to various problems that lead to the malfunction of turbines. Thanks to the AR remote assistance it is possible for the field worker to easily follow in detail the expert instructions already enhanced with AR elements. It is worth mentioning here that AR remote assistance also integrated into smart glasses gives the opportunity to field workers to perform inspections and maintenance with their hands-free while receiving instructions. Furthermore, AR remote assistance is a way to provide cost-effective solutions as in many cases for various problems in the absence of proper expertise for inspection and maintenance the process of energy supply is suspended due to work stoppage by the turbines. This results in huge losses until the right expert comes to the field.
Increased work safety
Another problem existing in wind farms is the safety of workers performing inspections and maintenance. Safety is a critical issue that often causes many dangers for workers’ lives. Using AR remote assistance integrated onto smart glasses for inspections is far safer now even when a wind tech is climbing up towers. In this way, while the fieldworker works hands-free, he receives the appropriate instructions but also warnings for various dangers that may threaten him. Thanks to this remote assistance, the safety of workers is improved, many dangerous situations are prevented and human errors that can occur during various processes are significantly reduced.
Fast and accessible visual assessments
AR technology is already providing solutions for visual assessments around the project site. Different images can be captured with a device on a tripod, and then images of turbines can be superimposed on photos. This also gives an idea of how a project might look in reality in a given location. Usually, this is also an innovative way to present projects to landowners or entrepreneurs while you are on the site and moving your camera while the turbines are superimposed in the real environment. Furthermore, through an AR remote assistance app, it is worth mentioning here VSight, it is possible to automatically transfer and document to a data portal the photos or videos captured together with the AR elements superimposed on them. Project supervisors thus have unlimited access to these materials and are able to determine project details such as height or number of turbines using field data in the model. This helps them to make possible changes as well as to successfully conclude their project planning.
AR technology is providing innovative applications in the wind energy sector and as mentioned above is radically changing the way of wind turbine inspections by significantly improving it with efficient solutions. To summarize AR technology solves complex challenges by empowering AR remote assistance that enables wind-farm workers to receive remote on-site guidance from more experienced colleagues and get the support they need in their operations. At the same time AR glasses superimposing digital instructions enhance the speed of assembly. The adoption of this technology is greatly encouraged as it is being proven every day that the implementation of AR solutions in the wind energy industry has significantly benefited employee safety and increased profits.