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03.09.2020 A special kind of a rope trick

Groundbased winch system

Groundbased winch system (dis)assembles large components

The term “large component” is dimensionally correct, but it doesn’t quite do the component justice. “Core component” would be a better description because these components are crucial for the operation of a turbine: If they fail, it inevitably means downtime for the turbine. It’s the worst case scenario for every operator, since not only is the feed in tariff   lost, but they are faced with an expensive bill for repairs or replacements. The impact is particularly high in terms of the logistics involved, and the need to use large cranes for dismantling. In the search for alternative techniques, GFW, a subsidiary of Deutsche Windtechnik, has developed a ground based winch system (GBWS), which was used successfully for the first time this year.

The advantages in terms of logistics and the financial benefits have already been proven

 “The winch system offers a wide range of possibilities, which all ultimately result in reduced costs,” said Jürgen Fuhrländer, Managing Director of GFW.

In particular, there are significant advantages relating to the wind turbine itself and the associated infrastructure:

  • Current design up to 145m hub height and up to 60m blade length, gradual expansion of the design limits is planned
  • Can be carried out safely at wind speeds of up to 12m/s
  • Suitable for conventional truck transport
  • No need to expand local infrastructure for large cranes

The financial benefit of the system is obvious. Even taking account of the costs for preparation, construction, implementation and dismantling, it is more cost effective than using a large crane for the same work.

“For larger orders, the savings may amount to a high five or six figure sum,” said Jürgen Fuhrländer, envisaging a positive future outcome for existing projects.

The winch system was originally developed for repairing rotor blades and damaged blade bearings, but it has also recently been upgraded and used for replacing generators.

Safety takes priority

Using this system requires in-depth knowledge of static and dynamic conditions and precision in the execution of the work. All those involved in the project implementation must have a reliable understanding of their task at all times and must follow the established procedures in accordance with regulations, which is why this system can only be implemented by a trained team of specialists. The GBWS is designed to detach the rotor blade from the rotor hub, lower it and place it onto the blade support using a combination of operating and support winches, rope attachment points, guides/pulleys, support frames and counterweights. Since the ropes are not detached from their attachment points after lowering the rotor blade, it can be lifted and reassembled by reversing the process.

One technical step ahead

Deutsche Windtechnik has a long tradition of developing its own systems. The ODNTM, the rotor blade clamping system, multiple converter solutions and numerous upgrades are just some of the successful examples. Technology as well as the framework conditions for the wind energy industry are constantly evolving, so there is a need for continuous innovation.

Matthias Brandt, Director at Deutsche Windtechnik AG, said: “We have many engineers and technicians on our staff who are really passionate about looking for innovative solutions, as well as personnel who make the product marketable. This is our great advantage as a medium sized company. Here, everyone can make the most of their strengths and the journey from idea to implementation is short.”