As wind farm operators meet the unprecedented demand for new turbines, they must also maintain installed towers, nacelles, and other components. Central to that work is removal and replacement of rotor blades, which can measure 80m (approx. 260 ft.) in length and weigh more than 24t. With wind farms naturally being installed in remote, windy locations, this is a complicated, expensive process that involves large cranes and heavy rigging—until now.
Following last year’s acquisition by The Crosby Group, a global leader in lifting, rigging, and load securement hardware, Airpes has widened the delivery of innovative lifting, handling, and weighing solutions for the wind energy and industrial markets. The craneless wind turbine rotor blade exchange system is a good example.
Josep Compte, managing director and co-founder of Airpes, today Crosby Airpes, said: “Our challenge was to develop a more cost-effective, faster solution, to replace the logistical feat of getting big cranes, hoisting technology, and personnel onto remote sites, sometimes for multiple days. The wind energy market is constantly evolving and innovating—and its suppliers must keep up or even pioneer new solutions. Our ground-level, the winch-based system avoids the use of large cranes, immediately eliminating much of the time and costs involved with other solutions.”
The Crosby Airpes way
Combining winches at ground level with a series of pulleys and shackles in the nacelle, Crosby Airpes can remove and replace blades in a six o’clock position. On the top of the tower, a rig is customized according to the turbine. For installation, a smaller mobile crane provides the necessary support to the tip of the blade, at a fraction of the cost of bringing a high-capacity crawler or mobile crane onto site. The state-of-the-art system is a more sustainable, greener method too, which further chimes with wind energy culture.
Compte added: “The craneless system demonstrates innovative thinking and improvements in cost and time efficiencies for the customer. It has given us a clear competitive advantage in one of the world’s most vibrant markets, further increasing our market share and contributing to significant, long-term growth. Leveraging The Crosby Group’s global footprint, technical field support and training teams, and world-class hardware, together we will bring this solution to more sites and make the lifting and renewables industries safer and more efficient.”
Crosby Airpes is part of The Crosby Group’s rapidly expanding Technology Solutions portfolio, along with Crosby BlokCam and Crosby Straightpoint. This portfolio combines robust technology and the highest quality lifting and rigging hardware to deliver solutions that improve safety and productivity for customers in every industry around the world.
Crosby Airpes’s craneless wind turbine rotor blade exchange system is available to purchase or as a rental solution.