Renewable Parts Ltd

Background

Renewable Parts Ltd. (RPL) is one of the leading suppliers of parts for wind turbines in the UK. They are an independent supply chain specialist, providing worldwide delivery of quality parts and consumables direct to site from an extensive collection of centrally held stock.

 

Challenge

The UK & Ireland market for wind turbines is substantial and growing strongly, with the lifecycle of a wind turbine typically estimated to be 25 years.

Critically, as turbines age, parts consumption rises and customers begin to seek alternatives to long-term service agreements due to shortening planning horizons. This is the point that the need for repair development becomes particularly vital.

Renewable Parts Ltd were looking to develop an innovation programme for the repair of wind turbine parts requiring significant technical expertise from a Scottish university in the areas of market research, technical assessment, design and test before production-ready solutions could be delivered.  Following on from this, they were also interested in setting up a Centre of Excellence hub in the field of wind turbine parts repair. 

The company also wanted the academic partner to identify and work jointly with industry partners to develop these remanufactured component parts on a commercial basis.  

 

Solution

The company was referred to Interface by Highlands & Islands Enterprise. Interface successfully matched the company with the University of Strathclyde who has expertise across the business and technology areas that the Renewable Parts Ltd project required.

In this collaborative project, the University was looking to apply a multi-disciplinary approach to identify the tasks and areas to be researched.  They believed that the combination of the department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, the Strathclyde Institute for Operations Management (SIOM) and the Scottish Institute for Remanufacture (SIR), hosted at the University of Strathclyde, provided the multi-disciplinary approach needed for the new business models/process that Renewable Parts wanted to investigate, as well as the technology expertise required for remanufacturing of wind turbines.

The project investigated data on wind turbine component failure rates to identify which components could be remanufactured/repaired/reconditioned, and the Strathclyde team completed a report for the company which outlined a number of potential components that might be of interest.

 

Benefits

Renewable Parts Ltd was successful in not only establishing a partnership with Strathclyde University but in securing funding from the Energy Technology Partnership. The total cost of their initial project was £23,075, with ETP contributing £13,575 in cash, and RPL contributing £9,500 in-kind.

The funding allowed RPL to develop implementation processes for two of these components, enabling the remanufacture/repair/recondition of said parts in-house. This meant that RPL could create a new manufacturing base in their original site of Lochgilphead in Argyll, an economically fragile region of the Highlands and Islands, creating jobs and supply chain opportunities.

Dr David McMillan

This initial project was a great opportunity for Strathclyde to create a new workstream with Renewable Parts. The project enabled the University to apply our expertise in turbine reliability and operations management in a new way, which really made us think about how we process and present this kind of data. The outcomes helped RPL shape their future service offerings – which is a great outcome on its own. But beyond that, the project has led to multiple further collaborations with experts at Strathclyde, including the Scottish Institute for Remanufacturing (SIR). The local supply chain will be crucial to keep wind turbines running, and we are happy to have played a part in facilitating that, in partnership with RPL and Interface.

David McMillan, Senior Lecturer and Project Leader, University of Strathclyde

Follow-on Activity

RPL are now in phase two of project implementation, pursuing funding opportunities through Government bodies and Industry, and working with University of Strathclyde as their innovation partner.

The company is also a finalist for the 2018 VIBES (Scottish Environment Business Awards) in the Circular Economy category, in recognition of their commitment to tackling environmental challenges. They have also reached the finals of the Glasgow Business Awards, the Scottish Resources Awards and the Inspiring City Awards.