Verton, an Australian lifting and load orientation product manufacturer, is developing its Windmaster project to offer a safer, faster and smarter method of handling and installing suspended loads offshore.
On entering the offshore generation market – estimated to reach $1.3 trillion by 2040, according to an International Energy Agency report – the Windmaster project will address growing safety and productivity issues with installation and maintenance.
This will mean a commercialised solution for wind turbine installations in challenging environments, with $178,000 in co-funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC).
Verton’s product is patented, remote-controlled and gyroscope-enabled, allowing for the removal of taglines, or supporting lines run from the load to ground level. It also means that dogmen (who operate taglines from the ground) aren’t needed, creating a safer offshore environment.
The technology can reduce equipment downtime by 25 per cent and hook-time, or time of loads in air, by 50 per cent. This ensures more productivity and safety and less damage.
“The winds of change are blowing in global energy generation, and Verton is a role model for other companies looking to leverage its experience in new sectors both here and abroad, while tapping into opportunities in the growing renewable energy market,” AMGC managing director Jens Goennemann said.
“By collaborating with best of breed researchers and industry partners to identify business opportunities, Verton is set to export locally developed craning and lifting solutions into numerous international markets.”
The Windmaster project has linked Verton with companies including heavy lifting and transport specialist Mammoet, marine engineers Van Oord and wind power specialist Vestas, among others. These companies have also financially contributed to the project.
“Through the AMGC-backed project, we scaled up the loads we can handle with the Everest system, from 25-tonne capacity to deploying a proof-of-concept for our Windmaster solution for testing at Brisbane Airport, which will be capable of significantly higher loads,” Verton project manager Patrick Taylor said.
“The proof-of-concept test will help us develop the best product for high-wind environments, where we use the wind against itself rather than try to fight it.”
Verton’s collaboration with Vestas has also generated a system used to lift blades, nacelles, turbines and other large components. This system integrated the Windmaster product in Vestas’ multi-blade installer yoke technology.
Collaboration has been the key to success for Verton since its inception, when Verton founder and CTO benefitted from Queensland University of Technology academic input.
“When we started, we needed calculations for the moment of inertia, and then to take that and integrate it into our software and make our products work like they are working today,” Verton global business development and marketing manager Esna Louwrens said.
“There is a vast amount of physical and computational complexity involved in getting it right.”
Australian manufacturers like Verton are thriving, as they create complex solutions for global markets and embrace the whole manufacturing value chain, according to Goennemann.
“It has been proven time and time again that manufacturers, like Verton, who invest in all seven-steps of the manufacturing value-chain develop products which are better, not cheaper, and have global relevance,” Goennemann said.
“They are proof positive of Australia’s manufacturing potential.”