Solving Challenges in the Wind Power Industry
Manual Tower Climbing: Physically Demanding and Dangerous
According to numerous industry surveys, including the Ergonomic Survey conducted by the Canadian Wind Power Association, climbing turbine towers is one of the most strenuous and demanding aspect of WTG operations and maintenance. Indeed, manually ascending the turbine tower is not only physically exhausting. It is also dangerous. Over the long term, the repetitive strain of climbing the tower frequently causes varying degrees of injury to the neck, shoulders, spine, knees, and ankles. And in addition to chronic ailments, the risk of accident is an ever-present danger in the tower environment, as working at height in cramped spaces can lead to a range of injuries, from abrasions and lacerations to more serious falling injuries.
In this way, the physical and associated mental strains of the tower workplace take a serious toll on maintenance worker health. It should therefore come as little surprise that operation and maintenance technicians have an average employment tenure of just 2.7 years – meaning that many employees are inexperienced, and that experienced employees are likely to soon leave their jobs. Furthermore, nearly half (45%) of workers in the sector have received some form of medical treatment. These statistics and worker testimonies paint the picture of a workforce at constant risk of physical and mental exhaustion.
High Worker Turnover Means Less Experienced Teams – and Higher Training Expenses
Given the physical demands of wind turbine maintenance in combination with high worker turnover rates, the majority of workers in the industry are under 35, and more than half have less than five years of experience, according to statistics gathered by the Canadian Wind Power Association. These data points testify to the challenging nature of wind turbine operations and maintenance – a field of employment that necessitates mentally and physically robust employees, in part due to the challenges of manual outdoor labor, in occasionally inclement conditions, but also due to the ever-present risk of injury, whether due to repetitive motion or accident. As a result, operation and maintenance companies are at constant risk of losing older and more experienced employees, and each departure is a costly event, due to associated know-how and productivity losses, as well as expenditures to orient and train new workers. According to the 2020 Canadian Wind Energy Association’s Employee Health Development Summit Report, 15% of employees have less than 1 year of work experience; 19% of employees have 1–3 years of work experience; 23% of employees have 3–5 years of experience; and more than half of the employees have less than 5 years. In terms of employee age, 17% of employees are younger than 25 years old; 48% of employees are 25–35 years old; and more than two-thirds are younger than 35.
Against this backdrop, operation and maintenance firms are in clear need of solutions to extend employee tenure, so that highly productive and knowledgeable workers are retained for a longer period of time. A clear point of departure for solving this problem is to ease the physical exertion of climbing turbine towers while also reducing the risk of injury and accident.
The 3S Lift Climb Auto System Enables Rapid and Safe Ascent in Just Five Minutes
The Climb Auto System (CAS) by 3S Lift is a highly reliable and extremely safe automatic system for climbing turbine towers. Independently developed by 3S Lift, the system can be easily installed on any tower, and enables rapid ascent in just five minutes. As manual tower ascent is on of the most time-consuming aspects of maintenance routines, the installation of a CAS is associated with immediate and significant productivity increases and cost savings. Most towers installed in recent years are 80–90 meters in height – and they will become even taller in the future. This trend will make maintenance work even more biased toward younger individuals, in the absence of appropriate solutions. The Climb Auto System dramatically reduces the physical exertion involved in climbing towers as well as hauling tools and equipment up to the nacelle. Accordingly, workers begin their maintenance and repair activities at the top of the tower while still fresh and alert, which reduces the risk of accident while augmenting worker effectiveness. Ultimately, the CAS greatly accelerates maintenance routines, allowing workers to complete their tasks more quickly. Furthermore, by preventing repetitive motion injuries while mitigating the physical exhaustion that can result from manual tower climbing, the Climb Auto System improves worker tenure, as technicians are less likely to suffer from physical ailments or emotional burnout.
A Game Changer in the Wind Turbine Maintenance Sector
The Climb Auto System is a game changer in the wind-turbine industry, as it significantly raises the age ceiling for maintenance employees. With the CAS, employees who possess extremely valuable know-how can stay on the job much longer – even up to the age of 60. In this way, maintenance employees are no longer forced to switch jobs due to the work’s excessive physical demands or chronic injury. This has major benefits for turbine operators, as lower employee turnover means less time devoted to the recruitment and training of new employees – and associated cost savings. As a result, the Climb Auto System is a winning proposition for all stakeholders, including maintenance firms and their employees, but also the populace at large, who benefit from higher renewables output and a strengthened wind power sector.