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.