Case Study: Hutchinson Engineering

Multi-capability Celtest team combines specialized equipment with a remote location for successful project completion

Project

In operation for more than thirty years, Hutchinson Engineering was originally formed in 1979 to service the Cheshire petro-chemical industry; it continues to be based in Widnes.

The company deployed the first micro-generation wind turbine structure in 2007, expanded its facilities the following year to accommodate additional wind turbine items, and shipped structures to the USA in 2009.

Over the next five years, as the company’s product range expanded, it gradually developed as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of small-wind turbine towers.  It also started to produce structures for the mid-wind sector, for turbines up to 1MW.

 In 2012, Hutchinson Engineering installed its first 60Kw wind turbine structure on the Isle of Coll, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The specific design for the wind turbine’s anchor system had to bear in mind the site location (remote, island), composition (rock) and the wind (strong, variable).

Challenge

As part of a continuous improvement exercise, a new base was to be fitted on Coll; this required new anchors to be installed, which are essential for securing the wind turbine base.

Hutchinson Engineering had previously contracted with Celtest on similar work.

As Adam Slonker, Project Manager at Hutchinson Engineering, says, “We’ve used Celtest in the past, and they’ve always proved professional, capable, and responsive to our demands. We don’t have the specialised in-house staff to perform this job, and we knew Celtest could do it. So, we arranged the date, and they went and did it.”

A major challenge for the Celtest team was location. Coll is an island approximately 13 miles long and four miles wide, off the west coast of Scotland. Its all-year residents number about 200, with tourists increasing that number in the summer months. While the weather on this small island is changeable, it does have a relatively mild climate and a lot of wind.

As the anchor system had to withstand the extreme weather and the forces that come with it, it was essential to ensure the new anchors were tested and approved for long, continued use on this remote island. The working relationship with the farmer helped in the time-sensitive achievement of this goal.

Results

The Celtest team - Neil Ainow and Gerallt Jones - travelled to Coll, with the intention of completing repairs and testing within five days (Monday to Friday), allowing time for difficulties in such a remote place. The daily ferry service (from two and a half to three hours) from Oban can be delayed by bad weather - both getting to and from the island. The island’s infrastructure is basic, with minimal mobile phone coverage, no public transport, and challenging road surfaces. However, the job was completed in 2.5 days.

The Celtest team had previously approached the landowner directly, making all the local on-site arrangements.

“They were comfortable doing so,” adds Adam. “And that professionalism simply made the job easier for us, as our head office is in Cheshire. Knowing the team on the ground had the full cooperation of the land owner was very reassuring.”

The site location on Coll was on top of a rock outcrop, with almost 360 degree uninterrupted views, and open to the southwest prevailing winds off the sea. On arrival, the farmer provided transportation, and got to see the team working.

“I was impressed by their methodical, careful approach,” said Lloyd Austin, Design Engineer at Hutchinson Engineering. “That’s the way I operate too, and it made me feel reassured that their work would be safe and secure, and well tested.”

The Celtest team sawed off the previously installed prototype, repositioned the base plate, re-drilled the eight holes and re-positioned the anchors.

Once installed, the new eight-anchor system was secured with specifically designed adaptors. The Celtest team then did a high-level pull-out test, using specialised equipment to preload the anchors with a 30-tonnes force for a five-minute pull test. The anchor system passed, and the team could wrap up the successful job, and catch the ferry back to the mainland for the long drive home.

“The turbine is working again, we’re saving money, and everything is in place just as it should be,” adds the landowner.

Conclusion

Adam concludes, “As usual, Celtest was easy to deal with, providing quick, effective results. They took care of everything needed to successfully complete a specialised job in a remote location, with the professionalism that we expect. We would not hesitate working with them again.”

Site Testing

On-site materials testing from Celtest

Laboratory Testing

Laboratory materials testing from Celtest

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