Austria and Australia as a perfect match
The Graz-based Green Tech Valley sensor company eologix and Australia’s Ping Services Pty Ltd. are combining their strengths in a strategic alliance to become the leading provider of rotor blade monitoring for wind turbines. The combined technology of the eologix sensor system, which measures directly on the rotor blade surface, and Ping’s acoustic monitoring system will reduce repair costs, increase annual energy production, and ensure the safe operation of wind turbines, among other benefits.
Thomas Schlegl, CEO of eologix, explains, “By combining our strengths, the joint system will be the only one on the market that provides customers with a comprehensive, real-time picture of rotor blade condition. This will allow operators to detect and respond to problems early, avoiding unnecessary downtime and high repair costs.”
The eologix sensor is attached directly to the outer skin of the rotor blade and provides, among other things, the detection of icing, the measurement of the surface temperature and, based on vibration measurements, the continuous monitoring of the angle of attack of the rotor blades. Ping’s system is mounted on the wind turbine tower and detects changes in the condition and operation of the rotor blades from background noise. It can also detect lightning by measuring magnetic fields and ice formation using acoustic methods. In addition, an acoustic sensor has been developed that is installed in the rotor blade to “hear” structural damage.
The future combined system will offer existing applications such as blade damage detection, icing measurement, pitch angle measurement and lightning detection, as well as additional applications such as monitoring and reporting on the current condition of the rotor blade – e.g. for early damage detection.
“The combination of technologies enables holistic monitoring of rotor blade health and operation, which has never been offered by any company before,” Schlegl said.
Ping CEO Matthew Stead agrees: “The synergy of eologix’s sensor system mounted directly on the rotor blades and Ping’s continuous acoustic monitoring system means that the condition of the rotor blade can be measured by ‘feeling’ it directly on the rotor blade, and ‘hearing’ it at the base of the wind turbine.”
So wind turbine operators could now monitor the condition of their rotor blades with their hands, ears and eyes, so to speak. This means damage can be detected earlier, allowing operators to make decisions that lower maintenance costs, reduce downtime and optimize operations during icing events.
“So there’s more uptime, less downtime and more power generation overall,” Stead says. Schlegl also explains that the data provided by the combined systems facilitates safety, as well as regulatory or insurance compliance, because customers can select, customize and expand the system to meet their needs: “The combined systems can be tailored to each operator’s unique needs, depending on the location, size, manufacturer and model of the equipment.”
According to Matthew Stead and Thomas Schlegl, the synergies between eologix and Ping represent the perfect opportunity for joint growth. “We are very excited to become the world’s leading provider of wind turbine rotor blade monitoring,” Schlegl said.
Ping will maintain its operations in Australia, while eologix will also remain based in Austria. Both companies will serve the global market. While the merger will take effect immediately, the first joint product will be launched in 2023 under the combined company name.