New project aims to improve wind energy manufacturing

September 30, 2014 0 By Alicia Moore

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Partnership aims to make the development of wind turbines more efficient and less expensive

A new project has been launched by Sandia National Laboratories, Iowa State University, and TPI Composites. Together, these organizations aim to improve the productivity of wind turbines and their manufacturing process. The Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, as the project is called, could go a long way in making wind energy more attractive in the U.S. The project itself is comprised of 22 smaller initiatives that focus on specific aspects of wind power.

Wind turbines are notoriously expensive, and their manufacture is also slow and labor-intensive

Current wind turbine manufacturing processes are labor-intensive and quite expensive. The process itself is also somewhat complicated and time-consuming, making the development of turbines slow. Manual labor is quite common in the manufacturing process, largely due to the complications and expenses of introducing automation to the process. Improving the manufacturing process will not be an easy task, but the organizations involved in the initiative believe that it can be done.

One project aims to identify bottlenecks in the manufacturing process

Wind Energy - Turbine constructionOne of the projects being supported through the Advanced Manufacturing Initiative comes from a team of researchers from Sandia National Laboratories. This project is focused on developing a factory logic model, which aims to shed light on ways the manufacturing process can be improved. The project will allow further research to be made into the process, enabling researchers to identify production “bottlenecks” and figure out ways to overcome certain challenges.

Advanced Manufacturing Initiative could help make wind energy more attractive

The focus of the other projects associated with the Advanced Manufacturing Initiative vary greatly. Some projects are focused on the manufacturing process itself, hoping to make improvements to the physical development of turbines and their associated parts. Other projects focus on the concepts behind manufacturing, looking at a bigger picture and trying to decipher how the process can be improved overall. Over the next three years, the Advanced Manufacturing Initiative intends to make breakthroughs in the wind energy field and could go a long way in making wind turbines less expensive and more efficient.