Wind turbine blade inspections — an Introduction

Unleash live
Mar 18 · 4 min read

Aging is a fact of life. For wind farm operators, this is an increasingly important challenge to grapple with.

Many data sources point to a direct correlation between asset age and performance. This is especially true for wind turbine blades.

The erosion at the leading edge reduces the airfoil lift by up to 23% and drag by 100%, reducing the aerodynamic efficiency, which in effect reduces annual energy production by up to 4%. (Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, December 2019)

Given the variable factors around wind for wind farms, it is important to ensure the maintenance and upkeep of these assets are regularly performed.

This pressure often falls on engineers on-site to develop innovative and creative approaches to solve these challenges.

Such maintenance has historically been costly and can excessively impact the viability of wind farms.

In summary, traditional maintenance methods involve:

  • Specialized rope access teams and coordination with onsite operators.
  • One blade being inspected at a time while it is in the down position.
  • Missing up to 10–20% of faults on blade visual inspection.
  • Manual and time-consuming consolidation of reporting.

All resulting in many thousands of dollars in production losses and days of unnecessary downtime per turbine.

Workflows are progressing, with the adoption of UAV programs providing a range of benefits previously unavailable, such as

  • Reducing the downtime to conduct inspections.
  • A safer working environment for rope crews.
  • High-quality images and videos to make better assessments in a measured way.

However, there is a catch to this upside from drone data as any drone pilot or drone program lead can testify to. Data! There’s a lot of it, in fact, it’s vast, and it’s equally time-consuming for teams to manually review, clip, distribute and report images and video.

Performing and ensuring the proper maintenance and fault finding of assets is a key task of engineers on-site, and there is a delicate balance between delivering optimal asset performance, and the costs of detecting such faults.

All this needs to be achieved with the various software management tools and databases being utilized by the business.

What is Unleash live and how does it benefit what I do?

Unleash live is a cloud-based subscription software platform. It provides a complete workflow for capturing, storing, analyzing and sharing visual maintenance data and insights.

A centralized location for all raw and analyzed data accessible for teams in the office, in the field and on the go.

Unleash live speeds up your inspection workflow

1. Perform real-time analytics to detect

  • Leading-edge erosion.
  • Leading-edge Tape damage.
  • Paint damage, pinholes.
  • Turbine split separation.
  • Vortex generator panel.
  • Vortex generator panel missing teeth.

2. Collaborate, share all media, devices, and insights from any browser

3. View faults geographically

4. Collaborate and view live inspections remotely

What does this mean for wind farm operators

Operators can reduce the resources required for manual inspections with the use of A.I. to detect damage, augment the role of people operating the process to supervising the process and reduce cost, operational overhead and speed to action by eliminating the need for rope access or helicopters by bringing decision-makers to collaborate in real-time over live video.

Additionally, teams can leverage live video collaboration for

  • Reducing the need to attend site visits.
  • Make working remotely (or on weekends) easier.
  • Promoting a safe working culture on the site.

The power of having all data across contractors and internal teams all stored centrally:

  • Support daily management sharing.
  • Securely provide 3rd party contractors access to footage without needing an account.
  • Minimize the number of managed contracted service providers that will be utilized on-site.

Get Started with Unleash live

Visit to start your free trial or book a time with one of our specialist team members to learn how your business can take advantage of live streaming video and A.I. analytics.

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