Mortenson says the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued the company a patent that covers its WindBuilder wind energy construction technology – a generative design tool used to optimize the balance of plant (BOP) design for wind energy projects.
BOP designs include the road network to access wind turbines and other electricity generating units, the crane path to move crawler cranes for one turbine to the next during the construction phase, and the underground electrical collection system that connects all turbines to a central substation, often across hundreds of acres.
“This patent award is a significant milestone for our company and the industry as a whole,” says Tim Maag, vice president and general manager of Mortenson’s wind energy team. “This unique construction technology was developed with decades of experience and enables us to more quickly and accurately generate and communicate design iterations with our customers to minimize time and costs associated with designing a wind project.”
The proprietary tool was programmed in-house by team members at Mortenson. The company says WindBuilder is the only program of its kind that optimizes comprehensive design, including access roads, crane paths and electrical collection systems, all in one program through a computational approach.
“WindBuilder impacts the time and cost of designing a wind project, as well as team member safety,” says Ryan Griffin, senior lean innovation manager, who led the team that created the software tool. “Moving cranes during wind project construction is a labor-intensive and a high-risk activity. We can save the customer time and money, and increase safety for our construction teams, by optimizing a wind project’s design with this tool.”