Life of a Wind Turbine Tech

September 30, 2020 11:25 pm Published by

Life of a Wind Turbine Tech

If you’ve ever taken a road trip across the state, you’ve probably seen wind turbines before. These huge pinwheels located in wide-open spaces are responsible for electricity generation without any coal involved.

With three blades that continually spin, wind is quickly converted into electrical energy that’s used by cities across the nation. Wind turbines aren’t maintenance-free machines, however: they’re constantly evaluated and repaired by tower climbers. Explore this uniquebjob as you gain a better appreciation for wind energy.

Why Climb so High?

Wind turbines are designed to capture as much air in their blades as possible. For this reason, they’re built 200 to 300 feet tall. Airflow at these heights is often steadier than down at the ground. The turbine looks like a simple gadget from afar, but there are complex mechanisms involved in its operations.

Technicians climb to the very top of the turbine for these reasons, such as:

  • Cleaning the exterior surfaces
  • Repairing internal parts
  • Testing dynamic components

Without consistent maintenance, these wind wonders would break down and reduce the energy necessary for customers’ buildings on the ground level.

Breaking Down the Repair Needs

Technicians perform many different repairs in their tower climbing gear. A few repair tasks include:

  • Replacing bad parts
  • Testing mechanical components
  • Evaluating the blades for any damages

Wind turbines can go through a lot of vibration in a given day. Repairs can also include tightening of fasteners so that any unusual frequencies are eliminated or reduced.

Ground-Level Tasks

Tower climbers aren’t always in the sky. There are a number of tasks that are necessary each day that simply require a computer connection. Technicians monitor electrical levels and other data from ground positions. This data is real-time information that tells a story about the turbine’s efficacy.

Basic observation is also a requirement. Verifying imbalances or poor wind patterns helps the turbines remain productive across their lifespans. Certain observations cannot be performed while technicians are physically on the blades.

Reviewing the Mechanical and Technological Knowledge Necessary for Tower Climbers

Tower climbers deal with a lot of mechanical issues when it comes to wind turbines. Bearings, motors and other components require attention and adjustments. However, technologically advanced knowledge about software and hardware is also necessary.

Technicians working in the wind industry will also perform these tasks, such as:

  • Evaluating fiber-optic systems
  • Adjusting the turbine through software programs
  • Reading and interpreting analytics that arise from the turbine’s use

Tower climbers usually have an associate’s degree and internship experience in order to secure their positions. There are physical and mental challenges to this high-flying career.

Exploring the Work Environment

Tower climbers experience several extremes when they work atop the wind turbines. Their work environments change, depending on the issues at hand, such as:

  • Hanging from harnesses below the blades
  • Entering tiny, interior areas for mechanical access
  • Climbing to the top of the turbine to repair or adjust sensors

Ideal employees for these positions will enjoy adventure and heights. Claustrophobia should be left at home.

Being Ready for Emergencies

If a wind turbine experiences a breakdown, it must be resolved as quickly as possible. Energy production is at a loss. Internal parts may be under strain, which contributes to accelerated decline. Technicians must have some flexibility to handle these emergency situations.

They must climb the turbine, ascertain the situation and devise a solution. In some cases, analyzing the turbine might be possible from a ground position. The life of a technician is unique every day, but safety is never sacrificed during an emergency.

Evaluating Critical Gear for Safety Purposes

There are many different pieces to tower climbing gear so that each technician is safe. They wear these safety items as a rule, including:

  • Full-body harnesses
  • Metal carabiners
  • Protective headgear
  • Gloves
  • Safety vests
  • Lanyards

These products protect the technicians so that they can work without harm. Leaving the ground without most of these items is unlawful. Experienced technicians know that their safety is always the priority.

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This post was written by Aaron Rood

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