Offshore trio developing drone delivery service

by Tom Russell in 27/01/2020 ESVAGT

ESVAGT, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) and Ørsted are developing a drone-based solution for the delivery of spare parts and tools from vessel to offshore wind turbine. The three companies have engaged in an innovation project bearing the working title Operative Package Deliveries by Drones, that will examine the potential in meeting offshore wind turbine generator technicians’ needs in an easier way.

The project Operative package deliveries by drones is sponsored by the European Regional Development Fund and runs until June 2020. The companies cooperate with several subcontractors regarding a solution in the innovation project, where drones can deliver packages weighing up to 3-4 kg directly to the wind turbine generator nacelle from a Service Operations Vessel (SOV).

"A technician is wasting time if critical tools or critical spare parts aren’t available to him,"
said Flemming Hjorth, Head of New Services Business Development at ESVAGT.  "When we transfer a WTG technician from vessel to WTG, he brings both spare parts and tools with him. But it often happens that the technician needs additional equipment, tools or spare parts while inside the WTG. Today, such a scenario requires the vessel to return to the WTG or that we send a transfer boat over to the WTG with the necessary gear, which the technician then has to get down and get. This process can be optimised.

"Most often, it is the small spare parts that make a difference: smaller electrical components or a specific tool. Delivering these with a drone could potentially spare us a tremendous amount of time and contribute to making the operation of the offshore wind farm even more efficient.

"Our ambition is to get a drone to transport spare parts between two variable points, following a route that will be adjusted along the way. It is complex, even when using drone pilots, and it becomes even more demanding once you add the changing weight of the cargo, the wind’s impact, the use of magnetic compass in an offshore farm with lots of steel, and so on. But the potential in finding a solution is extremely interesting."

It is not the first time ESVAGT has been part of a drone project. A year ago, the shipping company formed the joint venture EWPL Ocean, which inspects blades via drones that are operated and piloted from ESVAGT’s vessels.

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