Embracing third-party inspection expertise

NEWS / October 17, 2020

4 reasons you should utilise third party inspection services for offshore wind projects

The offshore wind industry grew by 30% between 2010 and 2018 and with an increase in the number of offshore wind farms, innovation in this area is booming. Turbines and blades are getting bigger and the shift towards floating wind farms in deeper water is already underway. With a renewed focus on reducing carbon emissions and the environmental impact of power generation, eyes have turned to wind generation as a long term, sustainable way of producing energy. 

Like other forms of power generation, there are hazards associated with the manufacture, transportation, and installation of assets, both on and offshore. Ecological and safety disasters – though relatively few – have been quick to hit headlines and the reputational damage to the industry has led to continued improvements and regulation requirements for the industry. 

Frequently changing regulations have forced the supply chain and asset owners to continuously evaluate processes and procedures, including inspection. As developments have grown in scale and complexity, the offshore wind industry has quickly learned the value of increased inspection. At the same time, as the oil and gas industry has diversified into renewable energy sources, the offshore wind industry has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in which it can tap into. From large scale fabrication of steel structures such as jackets and monopiles, through to onshore pre-assembly and offshore installation and commissioning, there are many stages in the development of offshore wind farms where there are major benefits or a regulatory requirement for third party inspections to take place. 

Utilising their experience in the oil and gas industry, Fulkrum team turned their attention to the renewables industry in 2017 and has supported the manufacture and commissioning of some of the largest offshore wind projects in the United Kingdom to date.  

Quality Assurance throughout the Supply Chain

Fulkrum specialises in providing vendor surveillance and independent third-party inspection services, utilising their portfolio of hand-picked, tried and tested expert inspectors around the world. Their business model relies on providing expertise specific to their client’s needs, wherever and whenever this may be. Having built their reputation in the oil and gas industry, Fulkrum is perfectly positioned to support renewables energy projects. 

When Fulkrum was brought in to support the Moray Firth Wind Farm project, they provided inspectors on both an ad-hoc and residential basis at various vendor locations globally supporting the procurement of structural steel and other ancillary equipment. By utilising third-party support at the procurement phase in the project, operators have the assurance that quality and control parameters are administered across the supply chain from the very beginning. 

Increased safety

One of the primary outcomes of utilising third party inspection is increased safety. Through utilising highly experienced personnel who often have decades of relevant experience, developers can access industry knowledge and specialist resources across the globe. This can include access to high-level technical authorities with the most up to date knowledge on changing regulations, regardless of location. 

It is rarely the case the fabrication and manufacturing of critical materials are done in the same place as the installation and commissioning, so safety standards must be set and maintained from the outset. Whether working in a fabrication yard in the United Arab Emirates or a Steel Mill in China, if third party inspection services are utilised from the start operator or contractor can ensure a consistent approach to safety across all stages of the project – keeping their people, contractors and assets safe. 

In the instance of the Moray Firth Wind Farm, fabrication of the turbine jackets was carried out in fabrication yards in the UAE. Ensuring safety standards was key and FULKRUM was invited to support site quality control at several fabrication yards. Fulkrum provided teams of highly qualified QC personnel from different disciplines including welding, coating and NDT inspectors to monitor activities on a 24/7 basis until the jackets were ready to be transported to Scotland. 

Efficiency improved 

In line with increased safety, the ability to improve efficiencies of any project through utilising third party inspection services has become a widely known benefit. It allows asset owners to effectively manage their supply chain while employing the correct expertise at any stage of the project. 

With ever-changing legislation and regulatory restrictions coming in to play, employing expert third party inspection and vendor surveillance services allows asset owners to confidently ensure industry compliance fully adhered to. By contracting this responsibility to experts in the regulatory process, their capabilities will support the regulatory approval process for your clients, reducing the risk and associated cost of failing to meet standards – reducing downtime and increasing productivity.

Impartial feedback 

One of the key benefits for utilising third party inspection across any project is to gather impartial feedback and expertise with a technical basis.  Third-party inspectors’ specialist knowledge will identify maintenance issues and safety problems that help companies keep their equipment running, but their impartial advice can also help improve business processes and procedures.

Through internal politics, contractor difference or any other number of reasons, an in-house inspector may not feel comfortable reporting unpopular findings, whereas third party inspectors can be relied upon to always remain impartial and provide factual and objective data. This is invaluable and allows businesses to maintain visibility of their global supply chain whilst better protecting people, contractors and assets, helping to minimise safety risks and costs associated with the project. 

Fulkrum Technical Resources is a leading provider of inspection and expediting services and specialist technical personal to the global energy industry. As the world moves towards more ethical and sustainable ways of generating power, continued advancement in renewable sources is crucial to make it an effective and efficient energy replacement for fossil fuel power generation, and while on the right track, importance on ensuring safety and efficiency needs to be maintained at all stages of the process.  With decades of expertise gained in the oil and gas industry, Fulkrum is utilising and transferring that knowledge to what will become an ever more prominent source of power generation in the coming years. 

Fulkrum’s philosophy of project delivery is not simply defined as being a service provider but as a fully integrated partner, giving their clients the benefit of their past project history and site location experience.