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Engineering innovation offers a flexible and scalable way to move the energy industry’s largest wind turbine blades

Engineering innovation offers a flexible and scalable way to move the energy industry’s largest wind turbine blades

As wind turbines get bigger, manufacturers face a problem when it comes to moving large-scale blades. Here’s how our most powerful MultiLink electric tug to date is keeping the renewable energy industry turning…

There is a noticeable trend in wind turbine manufacturing. Structures are getting bigger, with larger turbines generating more energy to meet growing demand. Still, with improvements to technology come challenges in the manufacturing process – especially when transporting blades that can measure more than 100 metres long and counting.

Balancing tip and base between a team of forklift truck drivers requires careful, slow coordination. Speed matching is difficult to achieve and with multiple operators having to use microphones because they are so far apart from each other, there is a real risk to highly valuable components due to lack of visibility.

Even the smallest of errors can prove costly and because of the sheer size of the blades involved – plus the fact that one end is rigid and the other end is designed to be flexible – expensive stresses and strains can all too easily occur.

Now, thanks to our most powerful electric tug to date, our Special Projects’ Team has been able to solve the problem, with a completely mobile, scalable way to move wind turbine blades.

The wireless PS3000+ allows a single pedestrian operator to safely move loads in multiples of 30,000 kg. As more tugs are added to create a MultiLink system, the weight capacity increases up to 360,000 kg.

It is a solution that was recently used by a leading wind turbine manufacturer in the UK when moving blades weighing 90 tonnes and measuring 81 metres. A total of three PS3000+ machines in MultiLink mode were used, controlled by bespoke software and a choice of customised steering modes.

The result is a perfectly smooth, synchronised forwards, backwards and sideways movement when transporting the blades around the production facility.

With other moving methods, when there is a change in direction, everything needs to be recalibrated which brings production to an expensive standstill.

The MultiLink system, on the other hand, can accommodate a change in direction without constantly stopping and starting – saving time and reducing the risk of damage.

MasterMover’s Managing Director Andy Owen said: “Our PS MultiLink system is being used in wind turbine manufacturing sites across the globe and the benefits are obvious to see – creating faster, safer and cleaner working environments. As wind turbine blades get longer, our system can be extended to meet demand. It’s completely scalable, mobile and flexible.”

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