Uptower technicians, ZF Wind Power’s sky warriors

Life as a sky warrior

During their missions, our sky warriors have amazing views from the top of the turbine. But how do they get there?

Technicians travel to the top with a ladder. “It is a physically demanding job,“ says Marla. “It’s not only the ladder, but you’ll have to carry the tooling with you as well. Of course there’s also the safety harness you’re wearing and the rescue gear. You can never leave without. Let’s say we always carry some 20 kilos extra with us.”

The equipment of a ZF uptower doctor

ZF Wind Power has developed its own precision tools to guarantee safe, high quality up-tower repairs. The company has designed specialist tooling for each gearbox model. When used in conjunction with carefully prepared and clearly defined working procedures, these tools guarantee the safety of the team and result in successful up-tower interventions. Large or heavy components are lifted to the nacelle by way of a crane. As the use of the crane is limited by a maximum wind speed of 8 m/sec - a speed often below the average wind speed at most sites (8-12 m/sec – depending on the site and the time of the year) it can happen that the team has to wait on site for a couple of days for safe operating wind conditions.

Mostly, the ZF field service team operates in the nacelle at height, but part of the job is done a lot closer to the ground in the workshop. “Many components are preassembled at one of our service facilities. In the USA, our Vernon Hills service center has a stock of gearboxes and components. Keeping a pool of gearbox components means component assemblies can be preassembled in the workshop, limiting the amount of work to be done on site. Working this way, components can be replaced within a few days if needed,” explains Marla. Thanks to ZF Wind Power’s unique Spare Parts Optimization Service, the team is also aware ahead of time when components will need to be replaced. This enables preparation that ensures access to the right component at the right time and thus minimizes any downtime.