Until now, Avanti has manufactured its ladder systems in China and Germany; these factories will continue manufacturing for the rest of the world.
“The factory in Wisconsin will enable us to move employment to the USA, while also allowing us to give faster and better service to our wind power customers throughout North America,” says Kent Pedersen, General Manager for Avanti Wind Systems in the USA.
The logistics also give Avanti, and consequently its customers, considerable advantages. Finished ladder systems take up a lot of space given the amount of raw aluminium involved. Moreover, the shorter transport times will reduce the amount of damage during transport, which typically occurs during the transport and handling of aluminium ladders, with the consequent major savings in transport costs. The new Wisconsin factory will manufacture ladder sections of up to six metres in length. The sections are subsequently assembled when they are installed in the towers.
“Avanti ladders are tested against North American requirements, which include ANSI 14.3. Physical tests are performed by Radco, an independent test institute. These show safety factor three for regular duty ladders and safety factor five for heavy duty ladders. This puts them among the best built ladders in the US”, states Kent Pedersen.
Moreover, Avanti Wind Systems has also designed a Dual Rung Anchor Point, which can be fastened to the ladders, and which allows tower manufacturers to install the PPE tie-off points needed by technicians working in towers on the actual ladder system, thus avoiding the welds on the tower walls which would otherwise be needed to comply with safety requirements. Avanti’s Anchor Points on its ladders are tested by the Intertek Test Institute to a pull force of 5000 lbs. as required by ANSI Z359.1.
“A ladder in a wind turbine tower is not “just” a ladder. It must be prepared for heavy duty use, and the ladder systems are an important part of the overall safety system for technicians working in towers. The ladders must also be designed to withstand the forces to which they are exposed by a fall protection system linked to them if a technician suddenly loses his hold,” says Kent Pedersen.
Avanti’s fall protection system is mounted as a rail on the ladder, and, of course, the system is approved by the competent authorities. However, Avanti’s ladders are not only used as personnel ladders. Avanti is supplying more and more ladder systems for use as cable ladders inside towers. The many cables running from top to bottom are fastened to the ladder, thereby making it easier for technicians to install and maintain cables compared with conventional cable trays, which are often made of galvanized steel and thus much heavier.
Besides the factory and the North American headquarters in Wisconsin, Avanti Wind Systems has a team of technicians stationed permanently in Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma.
The Avanti announcement is a reminder that the U.S. wind farm industry currently employs 85,000 workers, with enormous potential to grow. A national RES and other policies to promote clean energy technologies will create over 275,000 jobs in the wind power sector alone. Thirty-seven nations around the world have adopted long-term, binding renewable energy targets.