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article image3M partnership will use drones for wind turbine maintenance

By Karen Graham     Aug 9, 2017 in Technology
Santa Cruz - To reduce wind turbine downtime that can affect annual energy production, 3M has announced an agreement with Camp Six Labs to apply 3M products to wind turbine blades using soon-to-be-developed robotic applicators.
Doing maintenance and inspections on wind turbines 400-feet tall can be dangerous work. This issue has led to a number of technologies and innovations designed to make wind turbine operations and maintenance (O&M) safer and less costly.
3M, a multinational conglomerate corporation based in Maplewood, Minnesota, has partnered with a relatively new company, Santa Cruz, California-based Camp Six Labs, to use small industrial robots mounted on drones to conduct routine wind turbine maintenance.
The Camp Six Applicators will have small industrial robots mounted on drones to conduct routine inspections and maintenance on wind turbines. According to the Press Release, "During maintenance or upgrade work, FAA-certified pilots secure a safe flight perimeter and position the blades. After flying into position, multiple specialized robots will conduct repairs and improvements with 3M products."
In 2008, 3M created the Renewable Energy Division within 3M's Industrial and Transportation Business to focus on Energy Generation and Energy Management. Since that time, 3M has developed a wide range of technologies and applications in the renewable energy market, including 3M Wind Protection Tapes, fillers, adhesives and coatings they say will both repair and protect wind turbine blades.
Camp Six Labs is a new player in the robotic maintenance drones sector, started by two entrepreneurs, Clement Gires and Hannah Droesbeke. The company received $1.22 million in equity funding on March 21, 2016, to develop a flying robot that perches on wind turbine blades to inspect, clean and maintain them, according to Crunch Base.
“As the leading innovator of drone-based infrastructure maintenance, it’s important that we collaborate with a brand turbine owners know and trust in the wind industry,” said Clement Gires, Chief Executive Officer, Camp Six Labs. “By working together, these efforts will assist with increased energy production and lower blade repair expenses, without putting workers at risk.”
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