What to consider to optimize your assets and decrease downtime
By Tom Hall, Head of Condition Monitoring Services, SkySpecs
The wind industry has been growing rapidly in recent years, and as a result, the need for effective maintenance strategies has become more important than ever. One of the most critical components of a wind turbine is the drivetrain, which is responsible for converting the rotational motion of the blades into electrical power. However, the drivetrain is also one of the most vulnerable components, and failure can result in significant downtime and repair costs. To avoid these issues, condition monitoring of the drivetrain has become an essential tool in the wind industry.
Monitoring requires engineers to use multiple sensor data streams to monitor the health of assets in real time. However, with the wind industry growing so quickly, it means there are hundreds of thousands of assets that need to be installed, monitored, and maintained. Condition monitoring is very engineering-heavy and involves specialist engineers sifting through tons of data to assess conditions. It is similar to a doctor looking at thousands of X-rays every day — it’s very time-consuming and complex, but modern tools aim to simplify and unify data.
By detecting potential issues early and taking corrective action, operators can minimize downtime, reduce repair costs, and ensure the reliable operation of their wind turbines. With the continued growth of the wind industry, condition monitoring will only become more critical, and operators who invest in this technology will be best positioned to succeed in the long term.
The case study below outlines two real-life examples of what happens when a fault is detected and actioned early versus late and the impact that can have financially.
Both faults were very similar as they were defects on the generator bearings and happened on 2.05 MW turbines on the same site. Both developing faults were additionally spotted around the same time — however, that’s where the similarities end. The speed to action and associated costs were vastly different, as seen below.
Wind farm operators don’t always have the resources to stay ahead of every fault that could potentially shut down their turbine. But early fault detection can be one of the most impactful approaches to lowering O&M costs and LCOE. As the case study suggests, early fault handling provides several benefits, such as reduced downtime, improved safety, lower repair costs and enhanced performance.
Benefits of early fault handling:
- Reduced downtime: Early detection and handling of faults can prevent them from escalating into more serious problems that require extensive repairs or even component replacements. This helps to minimize turbine downtime, ensuring that they operate at peak efficiency for longer periods.
- Improved safety: Early fault detection and handling can prevent catastrophic failures, which can be dangerous to nearby personnel and costly to repair. By identifying and fixing issues early, you can ensure that your turbine operates safely and reliably.
- Lower repair costs: Early fault detection and handling can also help to minimize repair costs, as it can prevent damage from spreading to other components in the drivetrain or the turbine as a whole.
- Enhanced performance: By addressing faults early, you can ensure that your wind turbine is operating at its optimal capacity, maximizing energy production and minimizing losses due to downtime.
Ensure your condition monitoring discipline is scalable for the future
SkySpecs applies innovative approaches and technologies that help wind farm owner-operators effectively manage their drivetrain O&M so they can properly identify, mitigate, and monitor the drivetrain risks most impactful to their operations. We care about the health and performance of your fleet and realize the true value of CMS occurs through actions, not just detections.
SkySpecs offers Horizon CMS, a software product for advanced teams of condition monitoring engineers as well as a team of SkySpecs diagnostic engineers that you can leverage to extend your team’s capacity and ultimately lower your O&M costs.
Talk to us about your drivetrain monitoring and diagnostics strategy.
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