Locally developed technology gains overseas markets
ShafTest, Bureau Veritas’ technology for testing critical shafts and pins, is now successful on an international scale. ShafTest has been the inspection method of choice of Australia’s largest mining companies for many years, but is now being employed overseas to manage the reliability of wind turbines.
Cracking in shafts can lead to catastrophic failure, placing health and safety of personnel at risk, as well as causing collateral equipment damage and unplanned downtime. ShafTest is a portable ultrasonic flaw detection system for determining the condition of shafts and pins, helping to prevent these failures.
Dr Guy Cotterill, ShafTest technology co-inventor and ShafTest services manager at Bureau Veritas, recently led a campaign to inspect 32 in-service wind turbine main shafts in Southern China. The towers were approximately 12 years old and one of the towers had failed without warning. Of the 32 shafts tested, 2 shafts showed strong evidence of cracking.
From the experience in China, Bureau Veritas saw the potential to expand to the European market – the biggest wind power producers in the world.
“The advantage of Europe is that most wind farms are a short flight away from our offices. ShafTest personnel can complete multiple projects over a shorter period of time,” Dr Cotterill explained.
Bureau Veritas has since introduced ShafTest to Spain for the inspection of 12 wind towers. Bureau Veritas’ European wind power division is now working with the Spanish client and other operators to design a new service to assess and prolong the remaining life of wind towers.
A home-grown technology, ShafTest was developed by a team of Bureau Veritas engineers each of them graduates from the University of Newcastle. The project was funded by both Bureau Veritas and the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) and was supported by the Australian coal industry. Dr Cotterill, also graduating from the University of Newcastle with a PhD in physics, led the R&D effort that produced the ShafTest system. He is now responsible for diffusing the technology throughout Australia and internationally by leveraging Bureau Veritas teams in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.