Wind­farm cuts costs and boosts ef­fi­ciency


North- western Tas­ma­nian wind-farm

op­er­a­tor Wool­north Wind Farm Hold­ing’s re­cent choice to switch to the Ge­nie SX-180 boom lif t for ser­vic­ing its tur­bines has sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced the com­pany’s main­te­nance and run­ning costs, as well as ma­chine down­time, says Wool­north.

The boom lif t is be­ing used at Bluff Point, where Wool­north Wind Hold­ings op­er­ates 37 Ves­tas V66 wind tur­bines mounted on 60- me­tre- high tow­ers, as well as at nearby Stud­land Bay, where the com­pany has 25 Ves­tas V90 wind tur­bines on 80- me­tre- high tow­ers. The V66’s blades are 32 me­tres long, while the mas­sive V90 tur­bines have 44- me­tre- long blades.

The long-term lease of the Ge­nie SX-180 boom lif t is the first time a Ge­nie aerial work plat­form has been used to sup­port a ma­jor wind-farm op­er­a­tion in Aus­tralia.

“Prior to leas­ing the Ge­nie SX-180 boom lif t, Wool­north used cranes with bas­kets to ac­cess the blades of the wind tur­bines. How­ever, this so­lu­tion didn’t prove cost ef­fec­tive,” said Don Jes­sup, Man­ager, Spe­cial­ist Ac­cess Equip­ment.

“The Ge­nie SX-180 boom lif t can be op­er­ated by ei­ther of the two blade tech­ni­cians from the basket. With a crane, you can have two blade tech­ni­cians in the basket, but you also re­quire a crane op­er­a­tor to be in the cab at ground level al­ways. More­over, the crane op­er­a­tor may not be called upon to do a sin­gle crane op­er­a­tion for hours at a time.”

In ad­di­tion, there is the tyranny of height, with the two blade tech­ni­cians op­er­at­ing at any­where be­tween 130 to 180 feet in the air.

“Given the sheer heights in­volved, the blade tech­ni­cians may not have line of sight with the crane op­er­a­tor and have to com­mu­ni­cate by two way when they need to move,” said Jes­sup. In a Ge­nie SX-180 boom lif t, the tech­ni­cians in the basket sim­ply tweak the con­trols to move to a new sec­tion of the blade.

The fact that in­de­pen­dent crane op­er­a­tors had to be brought in from Burnie, 90 min­utes away, also added to the com­pany’s costs. For in­stance, dur­ing in­clement weather, Wool­north was of­ten pay­ing the full rate for the crane to sit idly on­site, said Jes­sup.

“Then when a clear day ar­rived, they’d need to con­tact the crane com­pany to get an op­er­a­tor, who was 90 min­utes away. This wasted time and good weather – or worse, an op­er­a­tor wasn’t avail­able.

“With the Ge­nie SX-180 boom lif t now sta­tioned on­site, it can be moved from one tur­bine to an­other, to take ad­van­tage quickly of the good weather con­di­tions, which helps re­duce ma­chine down­time. It is also used for a wider range of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing the paint­ing and main­te­nance of the mas­sive tur­bine tow­ers.

“Over a 12- month pe­riod, and given their abil­ity to take ad­van­tage of the Roar­ing For­ties, the strong westerly wind that blows across the re­gion, the wind farms at Wool­north pro­duce on av­er­age around four per­cent of Tas­ma­nian’s en­ergy needs sup­port­ing Tas­ma­nia’s clean green im­age, and at the same time pro­vide an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the lo­cal and re­gional economies,” said Jes­sup.

Part of the leas­ing ar­range­ment with Spe­cial­ist Ac­cess Equip­ment, was the pur­chase of Ge­nie Lift Pro train­ing. The op­er­a­tor train­ing cour­ses are high- qual­ity Ver­i­fi­ca­tion of Com­pe­tency ( VOC) pro­grammes de­liv­ered through a net­work of cer­ti­fied train­ers across Aus­tralia.

The first Ge­nie SX-180 boom lif t sold and de­liv­ered into Aus­trala­sia was pur­chased by Rich Rig­ging in 2014 for the as­sem­bly of a new ship-to- shore gantry crane at Lyt­tel­ton, Port of Christchurch.

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