The AUTOWIND project is a major integrated project, experimental and strategic in development, whose main objective is the development of a new comprehensive wind tower manufacturing system based on the application of high-power laser technology for the longitudinal and circumferential welding process of the different curved plates that make up the tower sections. In order to achieve the requirements of precision and repeatability necessary for the implementation of this new welding process, it is necessary to act in a fractional manner on the previous processes of manufacturing of curved plates and overlapping joints, since their precision in adjustment and positioning and their own sturdiness are essential for the feasibility and quality of subsequent laser welding.

In this regard, currently, the plate curving and joint overlapping processes are notably manual ones, slow and highly dependent on the fitters’ experience. Likewise, the current process of submerged arc welding requires many passes to create the welded joint. These critical factors give rise to low-productivity fabrication processes, with high associated fabrication costs and low repeatability.

Therefore, the AUTOWIND project aims to develop solutions of high technological value that will result in higher productivity and enhance structural quality and repeatability of the final product, as well as allowing cost-effective manufacturing of the new larger spindles demanded by the wind power market, which will not be possible with current manufacturing systems. These enabling technologies to be developed in AUTOWIND consist of:

  • The development of a measuring system and dimensional monitoring of the ferruling process , the development of a process control system and the development of expert software for the automatic configuration of the curved plate rolling machine during this process.
  • The development of a monitoring and control system which enables the overlapping process between curved plates to be automated.
  • Leveraging the advantages in terms of precision and quality provided by previous developments, development of a new welding process based on high-power laser technology combined with arc welding processes for the manufacture of wind turbine towers.

This AUTOWIND project has been promoted by the main manufacturer of wind towers in Spain, GESTAMP WIND STEEL GALICIA, which leads the project. GESTAMP WIND STEEL GALICIA will direct the integration of the different results obtained and the validation of the different technologies developed within the wind turbine manufacturing industry.

The AUTOWIND consortium also has the participation of GANOMAGOGA, a company specializing in the design and engineering for the wind and heavy boiler sector in general, and SYSPRO ENGINEERING, an engineering firm that specializes in automation, robotics and development of artificial vision systems for different industrial sectors and EMTE SYSTEMS.

Given the complexity of the AUTOWIND project, the consortium will have the support of AIMEN, the leading national Technology Centre in laser technologies and characterization of metallic materials and with extensive experience in the field of artificial vision and sensorization of process. This research center will collaborate with the companies of the AUTOWIND consortium, among other tasks, in: the development of the longitudinal and circumferential laser welding process of the curved plates that make up the wind shafts and in the development of vision and monitoring systems that enable the automation of the curved plate rolling and joint overlapping processes.

This AUTOWIND project has been supported by the CDTI, the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the Galician Innovation Agency (AGI) and the Technology Fund.

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