Automating Wind Turbine Inspections

An Otter Tail Power Case Study

Committed to a cleaner future, Otter Tail Power is transitioning to new technologies and energy sources that will help deliver reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible power to customers for decades to come. In fact, Otter Tail Power recently completed one of the company’s most significant capital investments and milestones toward a cleaner energy future in the Merricourt Wind Energy Center, harnessing some of the nation’s best wind resources to generate power.

In addition, Otter Tail Power owns and operates 206 wind turbines at several locations across eastern and central North Dakota. While wind turbines are great for the future of power, the infrastructure (also called wind turbine assets) is time-consuming and costly for Otter Tail Power to maintain in-house without the proper equipment, training, and technology. 

Otter Tail Power identified Thread as a solution in their search for a more efficient and cost-effective management program for their wind turbines, as opposed to hiring an external contractor. The team at Otter Tail Power partnered with Thread for expert guidance on purchasing and managing its own commercial-grade drone – this would allow Otter Tail Power to directly oversee their program. 

“Thread provided drone product demos, quotes for the equipment as well as an overview of the certification process. The service provided by the team at Thread has been the most impressive part of our interaction so far. They are very helpful and proactive—qualities that are easy to overlook but are much appreciated,”

Additionally, Thread provided Otter Tail Power with its automated asset inspection software and comprehensive training to conduct its blade maintenance program in house. Thread’s platform delivers timely and accurate asset data to customers like Otter Tail Power, helping to identify when and where inspections are required while eliminating the need for external service provider scheduling and costs. Thread’s software allows customers to compare critical inspection data, analyze trends, and assess overall asset health and performance. This collection of attributes is saving customers like Otter Tail Power thousands of hours in asset data organization and analysis. 

“With Thread's support, Otter Tail Power can achieve its goals in part to reduce overall cost of the annual blade maintenance program and to transition from reactive blade maintenance, which is something that the industry as a whole has been struggling with for many years. By performing two inspections per year, we're able to estimate the rate of degradation of our blades which makes budgetary planning easier,”

As a result, Otter Tail Power is able to self-perform two blade inspections on each wind turbine generator (WTG) every year with the support of Thread. The installation and training of the Thread software allowed Otter Tail Power to achieve its goals and deliver these results: 

Increase in Cost Savings:
Owning and operating its own drone is a much more cost-effective solution for Otter Tail Power.

Increase in Lifespan of Wind Turbine Assets:
More efficient and effective blade maintenance inspection program extends the life of the Otter Tail Power assets.

Increase Efficiency:
2X to 3X increase in blade operation inspections performed within the same timeframe as competitors.

More To Explore


Avoid digitizing written notes & annotated line drawings. Instead, collect data digitally.

Combine design drawings, infrastructure plans, & inspection data in one place.

Turn reactive repair into proactively managed assets, reduce downtime, & optimize maintenance schedules.

Use Cases

Quickly pull asset data together into workorder & inspection reports before sending teams out.

Eliminate redundant truck rolls & unproductive field operations.

Enable rigorous & repeatable robotic & sensor data acquisition without the need for external contractors.


Remove integration & automation gaps, enabling teams to better focus on their work & get more done, faster.

Enrich engagement across various teams including engineering, workorder management, & field operations

Store all data in one place including automatically ingested imagery, manual uploads, digitized field notes, & more.

All data, no matter the format or the richness, is associated with an asset in UNITI.

Package outcomes into reports & work orders in UNITI or integrate with your work order manager.