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On the Shop Floor


Tese high-performance, next-generation metrology tools have made verifying large parts considerably more efficient for Vestas. Te laser tracker relies on a laser beam to measure and inspect objects in a spherical volume up to 525' (160 m). Te AT901 was engineered with an overall focus on portability— lean construction, compact dimensions, and long-life battery power. Inspection of large wind components can be per- formed without repositioning the instrument due to its long measurement range. Te entire package can be transported by one person and fits into an average-size station wagon, giving quality control departments the ability to follow wind power components from factory to field. Te Leica Absolute Tracker line introduced an important


PowerLock automatically connects the laser beam to the reflector.


surement challenges due to their mobility, their measurement range and high accuracy under difficult shop-floor conditions. “Our developers define a certain number of points per ob-


ject that are critical to quality, the so-called CTQs. So we mea- sure the CTQs on each part, and a big number of additional characteristics such as the position of holes or other features on a hub. Subsequently, we make sure all single components of the nacelle fit together before the wind turbine is assembled. It is very difficult to correct any mistakes once a part has leſt the factory, and in the case of a hub, scrap would cost us over $27,000 per piece for just the material. Measurement pays off, but not only for us. We are using the measurement data active- ly to reduce cost to the benefit of our customers,” said Boysen.


Laser Trackers Add Precision Edge Te quality team at Vestas Nacelles has a long history in


metrology. Besides a large stationary CMM, they have used two Leica laser trackers—a LTD300 and LTD500—for many years. “Te time had come to look for new measurement sys- tems,” said Jeppe Nielsen, head of the measuring department. “Te old laser trackers still worked perfectly, however, we wanted to see if there was something faster. A new tool should help us with saving time and effort.” Nielsen and his team utilize two Leica Absolute Tracker AT901s from Hexagon Metrology (North Kingstown, RI).


54 Energy Manufacturing 2014


technological advance called the Absolute Interferometer (AIFM), which provided the ability to instantly re-establish an interrupted laser beam and immediately start measuring a moving target. Te “dynamic lock-on” capability was a very significant improvement for user productivity. Te system’s PowerLock feature enables the tracker to automatically lock the laser back onto the reflector or probe. Previous generation laser trackers used laser interferometers (IFM) and absolute distance meters (ADM) in combination. Te Absolute laser tracker leverages the strengths from both technologies and combined them to produce the AIFM, which can measure absolute distances to a moving target with the instantaneous update rate and the dynamic performance of a laser interferometer. “Besides gathering data in real-time, the laser tracker’s


PowerLock function impressed us,” said Nielsen. “Because of PowerLock alone, we save two hours of work time per ob- ject—in some cases, that means we cut the measurement time in half. Before, every time the laser beam was interrupted, it was a long procedure to re-establish the connection—it could even mean we had to climb down the ladder from which we measure some points, recover the beam, and continue the measurement. With PowerLock and a remote control, we can now measure our parts with only one operator compared to before when it was a two-man task.”


No small object has ever left the Vestas Nacelles factory.


Tailwind for the Measuring Arm Vestas Nacelles also produces bearing housings, 100% of


which undergo a measurement procedure in terms of pro- cess and items. Tis practice has provided the opportunity to reduce process variation, and in doing so, improved process robustness while lowering the cost of poor quality. Every single part the factory produces is also measured. “We understand measurement is not just part inspection,” said Boysen. “For us, it is an integral part of the production. You could say that our production relies on measurement.”


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