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2018 Awards for Excellence Winner Emerging Innovation

Duncan’s Canvas                                                                                                

Project name:  Air Station

Fabric Supplied by: W Wiggins

What did the client request?

In a perfect world all complex repair jobs would be done on the ground, but when you are repairing wind turbines, that’s not possible. So with a worldwide problem of turbine blades delaminating, and the glue used to repair the fibreglass refusing to stick due to the atmospheric conditions, our client needed a solution allowing the repairs to be made.

Our client needed a workstation allowing them to carry out repairs up to 100m in the air, and the glue used to repair the blades is very toxic. It needed to supply a controlled humidity environment and fresh air. It had to be lightweight to stay within the load limits of a crane lifting it 100m in the air.

The client did not have a design or solutions to creating an airtight seal around the turbine which vary in thickness over a 52m length.

We designed a “habitat” for staff to be sealed inside – along with a section of the the blade needing repairs – creating a controlled temperature and humidity environment. Complying with international health and safety standards, this enclosure had to adapt to many different environmental situations.

What is unique or complex about the project?

We designed a system where the occupants of the habitat had a constant supply of fresh humidity controlled air so that the applied glue could cure under suitable conditions. Inflow of fresh air created a positive pressure environment preventing external dust from entering and causing a total outflow of air saturated with the glue vapours.

International health and safety standards imposed late stage design modifications to allow for the occupants to have options to rapidly exit the habitat as well as removal windows for when conditions allow for increased ventilation.

Design and fabrication of lockable jaws, allowing the habitat to clamp down on the blade stabilising itself and sealing off the outside environment. This allows the platform to grab the blade, release, move to the next work site and re-grab without specialised training.

What were the results of the project?

The turbine blades can now be successfully repaired in situ. We have had repeat orders because the project was a complete success. Our system eliminates the need for repeat trips up the wind turbine when the glue would not adhere due to humidity issues.

Is there any other relevant information?

These habitats were made to incorporate a prefabricated elevated work platform. Mechanical engineering as well as canvas fabrication played important parts as modifications and redesigns plagued this project with the customer adding stricter requirements.

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