Safety and cost efficiency are in demand
Until a wind turbine or an entire wind farm is in place, there are countless tasks that must be mastered safely and cost-efficiently. For example, the installation process of an offshore wind farm in particular is extremely complex and the demands on the logistical part are many times higher than in the onshore sector, for example. A standard wind turbine also requires more than 8,000 different components. The logistics costs alone for installing an offshore wind farm can amount to up to 15% of the total investment. Apart from the mammoth task itself, there are a whole series of safety regulations such as the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, the Product Safety Act ProdSG and DGUV-R 100-500 that must be observed and complied with.
Reliable and effective lifting means throughout the wind industry supply chain
"Logistics already starts with the design," explains Jens Christiansen, sales manager in the RUD slings division for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. "The designer must already think at the design stage about how the component will be transported, moved and finally assembled within the company, on the road, and if necessary on a ship. In wind power, the dimensions are particularly large and the weights exceptionally heavy. This literally does not make it easy. But as quality and technology leaders in these areas, we have safe and efficient solutions for every situation. These are also needed, because basically, slings and/or lashings are needed in all phases of the life cycle of a wind turbine.“
The life cycle of a wind turbine includes:
1. Idea & design: The subsequent production and delivery processes as well as legal requirements must already be considered here.
The RUD portfolio includes slings and lashings for the most complex tasks - from solid chains to diverse screw variants for perfect integration into almost any construction. It should be borne in mind, however, that the requirements for the slinging and lashing points can change during the production process. For example, the weight may change or the center of gravity may shift during the production process. These changes to the workpiece must also be planned for. If a slinging or lashing point is still sufficiently dimensioned at the beginning of the production process, it may no longer be sufficient in the further process with regard to the WLL or the lashing force or the mobility. Through careful planning, cost-intensive special slinging equipment can be avoided. You can find our extensive product range at www.rud.com. There, as well as on CAD platforms such as partcommunity.com and traceparts.com, free CAD data is also available.
2. Production: Once the system has been designed on the drawing board and all parts lists have been created, production begins.
Whether small components or huge rotors - there is also a solution from RUD for every lifting, securing or transport task in production. Thus, over the entire production process of certain components, there are always changing requirements for slinging and lashing points. Handling during lifting, turning, rotating and moving places different demands on the slinging point. For tasks like these, standardized and tested RUD supplier parts such as slinging and lashing points save time and money. For example, the load ring VLBG-PLUS is suitable for lifting, rotating and turning operations due to its enormous load-bearing capacity, excellent material properties (temperature/corrosion resistance) and well thought-out design. For example, it can be rotated 360°, swiveled 180° and holds the suspension eye in the desired direction. This makes it extremely easy to hook the sling into place and offers a wide range of possible uses.
3. Delivery: The finished components or assemblies are transported to the construction site.
When transporting heavy components such as the cast part of the rotor blade hub or the tower segments, several RUD solutions are used. RUD lashing equipment, i.e. lashing chains and lashing points, are designed for uncompromising load securing during transport. This includes the lashing point RUD L-VLBG M36, which can be used, for example, to secure a nacelle. The nacelle sits on top of the tower and contains technical equipment such as the drive train, generator and brake unit. "When it comes to reliable solutions for safe transport, you shouldn't skimp. Lack of or inadequate load securing is a major cause of accidents in the wind power industry," notes the sales manager. "The cost of a new nacelle or postponing the commissioning of a turbine is much higher than the investment in proper load securing with correctly designed loading instructions and suitable lashing material. Our solutions stand for the highest level of safety. You can rely on that." A wide range of RUD ICE lashing materials ensure safe lashing. For the user, the use of ICE lashings means considerable weight savings and thus improved ergonomics. Faster attachment ensures a time advantage and the magnetic locking coupling of the ICE-CURT-GAKO ratchet tensioner provides added safety by preventing unintentional release due to vibrations while driving.
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4. Installation: Once on site, the tower is erected.
There are also custom-fit solutions for heavy tower segments and special parts such as the rotor blades. Jens Christiansen gives an example: "For lifting and erecting the large and heavy tower segments, special attachment points are attached to the flanges of the segment. Our flanged load ring T-FRB (FLARIBO) was specially developed for such tasks and therefore features a patented thrust bearing washer, which is incorporated into the lateral bearing, for optimized 90° loading." To erect a tower segment, four FLARIBOs are mounted to the top of the segment and two FLARIBOs to the bottom. The segment is then lifted using two cranes and erected in the air. The sling chains move over the deflection rollers of the RUD VIP chain block VCB. The compactly designed VIP chain block allows load balancing and the segment positions itself vertically. After successful positioning, flange to flange can be bolted together. When the four FLARIBOs are removed from the top of the tower segment, the braked deflection rollers of the VIP chain block VCB prevent the unloaded side of the chain from slipping through and falling down in an uncontrolled, one-sided manner.
„The combination of FLARIBOs and VIP Chain Block VCB results in a perfect interaction for maximum safety," Jens Christiansen further explains. "The compactly built chain block is a robust replacement for a deflection roller and ensures efficient and safe chain deflection thanks to its 5-sided roller.
After the tower is assembled from its individual segments, the next step is to mount the nacelle and hub assembly. "For the hub assembly, so-called rotor tilting crossbeams are used," explains Jens Christiansen. "The rotor blades are pre-assembled either in port or on the ship. Then the complete rotor star is lifted and tilted in the air into the assembly position. This type of assembly is increasingly used for wind farms. Such a lifting beam can lift and tilt up to 145 tons. The lifting beam has two generators and two hydraulic systems. This ensures the assembly of the hub even in the event of a partial failure of the system. Here, too, the highest level of safety and efficient pragmatics is guaranteed“.
5. Operation/maintenance: The tower stands and is regularly maintained.
When the system is finally up and running, maintenance becomes the issue - which at dizzying heights becomes a task for personal safety. "There is no compromise here. Any hazards during the work must be completely eliminated here," emphasizes Jens Christiansen. For maintenance on objects as high as wind turbine towers, safety is paramount for the skilled workers in charge. "The PSA-VRS STARPOINT was specially developed to secure people during high-risk activities. A lanyard can be attached to the anchor point, which is connected to the safety harness worn by the assembly personnel.
The PSA-VRS STARPOINT can carry up to two persons. This has the advantage that in the event of an accident, the anchor point secures both the victim and the rescuer. This means that the rescuer can be secured in the same line at the accident site and no distance to the casualty has to be bridged. The PSA can be rotated 360° and, with its special non-removable screw, forms a compact securing unit. It has been tested and certified by the DGUV's PSA department. System components can thus be safely checked or replaced. Existing threaded holes in the supporting structure can be used for fastening the sling.
„Our stainless variant, the PSA INOX-STAR, is designed for permanent outdoor use under the influence of the weather. We at RUD can provide optimum help in avoiding hazards; the only thing that the specialist personnel working on the tower have to have done themselves is the height suitability test," says Christiansen.
6. Disposal: At the end of the life cycle, the components are replaced or dismantled and transported away.
As with installation and delivery, there are just as many diverse lifting and securing tasks to be handled during dismantling and removal. Here, too, our products and solutions come into their own: For safe lifting of the pipe segments, the flange load ring T-FRB (FLARIBO) and the VIP chain block VCB are the first choice. The L-VLBG M36 lashing load block and our ICE lashing equipment, such as the ICE-CURT-GAKO ratchet tensioner and ICE lashing chains, ensure safety during loading and transport.
Offshore plant? No problem either!
Wind turbines are used onshore and offshore. The latter area in particular has specific requirements, for example for assembly work under water. But RUD is also equipped for this - with the ROV-HOOK. This hook is the first of its kind, which can be operated with only one robot arm of a robot-operated-vehicle and can handle loads of up to 25 tons. Thanks to the integrated, specially designed locking mechanism, unhooking due to flow is not possible - another plus point in terms of safety.
From concept to implementation: RUD solutions accompany you along the value creation chain.
From planning, production, transport and installation to maintenance and dismantling - this overview of the entire life cycle of a wind turbine shows how solutions from the RUD think tank can smoothly bring the heaviest and most difficult processes through. "Whether standard products or very special solutions - we make sure that the wind turbines can turn at the end and deliver renewable energy," Jens Christiansen sums up. "Of course, our product range is also in use in all other industries and sectors when it comes to lifting, lashing and the safe and efficient transport of goods. Each of our products is a reliable link in our customers value creation chain."