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Capacity Increase: Wind Turbines

"He was extremely skilled at adapting to different cultures, equally comfortable in dialogue at a high level as on the shop floor." - Peter Hovgaard


Industry

Industrial products – LM, wind turbines

Support Level

1 consultant, 3 months

Objective

To improve process understanding and control in the serial manufacture of large composite wind turbine blades

Results

  • Reduced scrap blades from 1 in 20 to zero
  • Reduced rework from 20 % to zero, thereby increasing moulded blades by 25 % in three months
  • Improved resin yield from 72 % to 92 %

Why was chartwell brought on board?

As the largest supplier of wind turbine blades in the world, LM was going through a period of very rapid global expansion and required an uplift in both quality and operational performance.  There was a need to increase output massively at the same time as making progressively longer wind turbine blades.

Results of the 3 month project

  • Output increased by 25 % in 3 months
  • Resin yield loss reduced by 72 %
  • Value of recovered lost sales margin and waste was valued at over €3 million per annum
  • The team went on to roll out process globally through a wider change programme

"I've used several consulting firms in the past with mixed results.  I'm often presented with many short term actions and few sustainable results.  With these guys, it was different: the approach quickly identified significant improvement potential, involved the teams and drive for immediate changes, and then let the teams themselves create long-lasting and sustainable results". - Roland Sundén, CEO

Examples Of Project Work

What technical difficulties were limiting blade production?

FOCUS AREA:

LM had talented plant and technical leadership. There were known problems relating to wrinkles in glass layup and with the resin infusion process. The main technical challenge was to understand the optimum resin flow rate over time during the infusion cycle. Every operator followed the flow front and adjusted the controls differently.

What key parameters needed to be controlled in order to make a more repeatable process, and how were they identified?


Injection and vacuum pressure:

The team was able to apply Fault Tree Modelling (Chartwell’s advanced problem solving methodology) and determine what injection and vacuum pressures gave the best resin distribution for minimum waste.

However, the Fault Tree Modelling process identified two other key factors that were out of control, preventing a repeatable process:

Resin viscosity:

The resin supplied had variable viscosity and gel time.  It was discovered this was due to test method inaccuracies at the supplier.

Glass fibre permeability:

Variable permeability of the glass fibre was affecting resin flow rate and penetration.

What actions were taken?

The team was able to devise an automatic control system to ensure the injection and vacuum pressures were optimised on every blade. They went on to work with both the resin and glass suppliers to eliminate variability in viscosity, gel time and permeability.