Customer use case: Wind energy

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Below is a customer use case from the wind energy sector. With more than 40,000 installed wind turbines, the company is one of the largest wind turbine manufacturers with several production sites worldwide.


Each of the four product divisions is dedicated to the manufacture of a specific part of the wind turbine. There are aspects of quality management, such as data acquisition, that affect all divisions. However, there are also individual quality requirements that are only relevant to certain areas.

The nacelle consists of gears and bearings that are built around the main shaft and are driven by the rotor blades. Additional quality requirements here include the collection of torque data on all fasteners, SPC and traceability of components and materials.

The tower is the pillar, the base on which the nacelle is mounted. The recording and analysis of welding data, the documentation of material assemblies and traceability are the top priorities here.

Rotor blades. Each wind turbine requires three rotor blades, which are made of carbon fiber and glass to save weight. Depending on the type of wind turbine, the rotor blades are available in different lengths. The quality focus in the production of the rotor blades is on controlling the weight of each rotor blade and maintaining the exact shape for perfect aerodynamics. The elimination of faults and defects is essential, as the scrapping of a faulty rotor blade is associated with high costs.

Control systems. These are the hardware and software that control the wind turbine. The focus here is on achieving yield targets for the initial samples, supplier management and the tracking of parts and defects.

Global standardization of data collection

Given the size of the company, the complexity of the quality requirements and the global distribution of production sites, reconciling data and reports generated in different plants and by different suppliers is a major challenge. Millions of measurements are taken and analyzed every day.

Our QM software is installed on the central server. This is where all the data is recorded, stored and managed. The software standardizes all quality data. It ensures that measurements of the same characteristic are taken and analyzed in the same way everywhere. Consistent quality management begins with data acquisition. Even here, it must be ensured that all data is valid before it is imported and further processed. This guarantees the comparability of all data from every system and every machine worldwide.

Implementation and quality integration

The first step in introducing a new product or solution to a wind turbine manufacturer is a successful pilot installation. The pilot installation for QMS took place at the company’s headquarters in 2008 and included the QMS SPC software. Data was to be imported from over 500 devices and from various databases. In addition to the company’s own equipment, this also included welding machines, Zeiss coordinate measuring machines and special machines and test equipment for the wind energy sector.

QMS is implemented throughout the entire product life cycle chain, including the planning and approval process for newly developed parts and suppliers across the entire production chain with more than 5,000 employees working in the system around the clock. No part leaves production without being approved in QMS.

The manufacturer utilizes the possibilities of QM for use in:

  • Quality planning – APQP4Wind including process flow, inspection plan, FMEA, PPAP and MSA.
  • Incoming goods – quality assurance and release of incoming goods, including inspection and documentation, directly integrated with ERP.
  • Data collection – Inspection planning to visualize characteristics, provide work instructions and support inspections directly integrated with MES.
  • Data analysis & reporting – Visualization and partial acceptance via automated analysis & reporting using statistical methods directly integrated with KPI reporting.
  • Complaint Management – Automated integration between data collection and defect resolution has significantly reduced the time required to manage the 8D process

ERP integration

QMS is integrated into the company’s existing SAP system and thus automatically receives further information, such as parts data, supplier master data, information on incoming goods orders or returns. This exchange takes place in both directions and also in exchange with warehouse management.

The MES connection

QMS is also integrated into the company’s existing MES system and also receives its information from here. It automatically receives production orders and recorded values from the MES system and returns relevant quality data to the MES system.

The synergies

QMS ensures that all quality data, from product planning to continuous improvement, is managed in an integrated system. This has created synergies over the years and significantly reduced quality costs. All recorded data, whether from the design phase or production, is error-proof and valid from the outset. It pays off across the entire line when reliable data is recorded. The integrated quality management system can thus get the best out of the data. In addition to the use of quality data analyses, the data can be passed on to suppliers and customers as documentation or product certificates. This forms the basis for quality planning, compliance and inspection, complaints management and continuous improvement.

The automated analysis and reporting functions are located along the entire quality value chain and can therefore uncover problems in real time. The graphically supported reports are clear and easy to read and provide the right people with meaningful information to make robust decisions in a timely manner.

Customer focus

The company’s success depends on the successful installation and operation of the wind turbines at its customers. The wind turbine manufacturer takes on an active advisory role when working with its customers in order to develop the special requirements of its customers together with them and to support them with its specialist knowledge throughout the planning phase. The QMS-based quality assurance system is an essential part of the production process. The software applies demand-oriented production equipment for quality control at each process step, defines strict and precise cycle times, applies SPC with Six Sigma targets, defines employee certification processes and standardizes measurement and test equipment management.

Customer-specific analysis

The Quality Domain has developed a process in which work instructions run automatically. The QMS software itself assesses whether the production line is within the quality tolerances and the specified sigma level. QMS analyzes the output of certain processes to determine whether they are being carried out optimally or whether the very time-critical inspection and data acquisition processes need to be adjusted. Another customer-specific module was implemented to obtain automatic test certificates from QMS and to provide test evaluations using the QMS Report Designer.

Gondel Baugruppe

The entire nacelle assembly process is mapped in a single QMS inspection plan, with each step defined as a process. The inspection plan, which includes “order” fields and sample information, requires that each individual step must be completed with an “OK” before the next step can start. It also ensures that each component is traceable. These inspection plans contain up to 450 processes and cover several hundred characteristics.

Today, all information from production flows into the QMS database to ensure that documentation and work instructions are up to date. Once a nacelle has been assembled, including the correct cable attachment, the recorded data is imported using the QMS Import Manager. If QMS determines that the inspection results are OK, it summarizes the results in the corresponding reports. The software then automatically creates and distributes the inspection reports. The process generates millions of records that are stored in QMS. Therefore, QMS is able to log test results, identify defects, track rework and calculate the values that go into KPIs to enable meaningful comparisons.

With QMS at the core of its quality management platform, the company has introduced what all leading manufacturers are trying to achieve – an exemplary integrated quality system that continuously improves quality on multiple levels, reduces costs on a large scale and ensures your product performance worldwide.


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Ludmila Lebedev
Sales Team Germanedge

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