Condition-based maintenance is a strategy in which maintenance is performed when one or more indicators show that machine performance is deteriorating or the equipment is approaching a failure. Periodic condition-based monitoring allows planning maintenance on the user’s schedule, not the machine’s.
Advantages of a Condition-Based Monitoring program include:
• Improved system reliability
• Increased production
• Decreased maintenance costs
• Less human intervention, less human error influence
• Early detection of failures and planned maintenance
Wind-turbine generators are unmanned and often in remote locations with harsh and highly variable weather conditions. The health of components such as bearings, gearboxes, and generators is essential to ensuring availability. Maintaining these critical assets is crucial to uptime and performance. Condition-based maintenance has become a more accepted technology for wind turbines in the past two years, however it is estimated that less than 10% of these critical assets are proactively monitored to detect problems and determine their mechanical health.
More wind turbine manufacturers are offering on-line condition-based monitoring and vibration data with new turbine models and installs. But what about turbines already in-use?
The decision to retrofit requires a large upfront cost. Even though the ROI for condition monitoring is proven, it’s a big decision. Hand-held data collectors have been suggested as a solution, but wiser safety policies do not allow technicians in the nacelle of a running turbine, so this is no longer an option.
A recent trend for wind turbines is mobile-monitoring systems. These install easily, configure rapidly, and provide clear diagnostics for remote applications such as wind turbines and for collecting additional data on-site. Mobile units can move from turbine to turbine to collect data for hours or days, depending on the application.
Mobile monitoring systems can be leased or purchased, and in some cases, include vibration-data analysis. Vibration data can be sent off-site for analysis by internal resources, third-party providers, or the equipment manufacturer. It is important to make sure that whoever is doing the analysis has experience with wind-turbine-vibration data and their diagnostic engine has tools to provide accurate analysis. Analysis tools should include low frequency response, order tracking, and the ability to identify gear mesh frequencies.
New technologies are bringing new solutions to mobile monitoring. Just as in many other high-tech markets, new advances in computer hardware and software are bringing the cost of condition monitoring technology down. For example, 3G/4G cellular and satellite communications makes data transfer easy and secure. This also eliminates need for a laptop or server in the nacelle. Because this applies to a condition-based monitoring solution, the cloud allows access to data anywhere in the world, including by third-party analysts, and without having to add additional expensive infrastructure. This could also makes it easier to monitor remote installations via existing Internet connections, 3G cellular technology, or satellite communication.
Why cloud technology?
Let’s first understand a cloud-based network. The cloud brings together a large number of computers to operate a single application.
In the past, network-based data collection and analysis required computer uses to host the data and handle traffic— whether a server your company owned or one leased from a service provider. Under these circumstances, your company would require a data center, with several servers, dedicated to collecting and processing data. The data and results would only be available to computers on the network. Cloud computing leverages the power of the Internet to eliminate the need to purchase, install, and maintain independent data centers and networks.
The cloud consists of layers – primarily back and front ends. Front-end layers are for user interactions. The back-end consists of hardware and software architecture that support the interface users see. Because computers are set up to work together, the applications take advantage of all that processing power and operate as if they were all running on the same computer.
Cloud computing offers:
•High reliability due to massive redundancy
•Greater flexibility and scalability
•Unlimited (almost) data storage
Rapid developments in cloud technologies and services can only work to benefit the wind community. All of these factors will work together to bring mobile, affordable, accessible, and powerful condition-based monitoring products and services to every site. WPE
By: Paul Berberian, CBM Enterprise Solutions, www.cbmenterprise.com
Filed Under: Uncategorized