In recent years, the world is seeing expansive development of wind power. Sage Oil Vac recently exhibited its products at the International AWEA Windpower and Expo in Las Vegas, NV. While visiting with a broad range of customers, vendors, and attendees, one of the hot-button topics on seemingly everyone’s mind was the growing trend of Condition Based Wind oil exchanges for wind turbines. “Based on discussions and insights, it’s apparent that condition based oil changes are quickly becoming recognized as a proactive approach to addressing market demand and efficiency needs, but without the investment in dynamic condition based wind turbine oil changes there is a significant and extended risk for negative and costly results,”says Sage Oil Vac’s Dallas Dixon
A condition based wind oil change (CBW), is one that only occurs after a series of tests and analysis, which tall of the need for an oil change. These tests are usually conducted by a 3rd party provider at an additional cost. This early trend goes against the traditional method of Interval Based Wind oil changes. Interval based oil changes are generally based upon several factors such as: time span (1 to 2 years), number of operating hours, number of rotations, change of product (ex. Mobil to AMSOIL or vice versa), or scheduled OEM maintenance.
With industry expansion, business growth involves analysis and management of operating costs, and oil changes are no exception. Operating costs involved in interval based oil changes can include lost production (wind turbine is not operating), paperwork, labor, equipment cost, oil disposal cost, and lubricant cost. Condition based oil changes are no exception to this rule, however, businesses may also find they will require the use of additional equipment such as expensive diagnostics and costly laboratory analysis expenses. One area that interval-based wind oil changes naturally address, and that many overlook with CBW Oil changes, is the variation in weather and how that affects the intervals or “condition” of the system. Interval based oil changes are a “pro-active” approach to caring for a multi-million dollar piece of equipment.
“Pro-active” in the sense that many possible expensive issues can be prevented if routine maintenance is executed. In addition to the oil change, owners and operators and wind farm manufacturers have the opportunity to inspect other elements of the wind turbines and complete routine maintenance, before a diagnosis or negative diagnosis notifies of a problem that might be beyond repair. While a condition based oil change has benefits such as reduced use of expensive oils and analysis based feedback, the process of obtaining the oil sample can be a problem in itself. While extracting the oil analysis, re-suspension of settled contaminants can occur. Also, the oil sample may vary depending on where inside the gearbox the sample is drawn.
According to our research, while technology and CBW is evolving, there is a general need for quantitative planning methods and measurement techniques which will make detection of failures possible. However these methods need expensive sets of input data. The location of laboratories may not be geographically convenient due to remote locations and it is costly to have these analysis conducted by a 3rd party. A condition-based oil change can be viewed as a “re-active” course of action, if not dynamic and can significantly decrease ROI when it comes to preventative maintenance, because this type of oil change is typically done only after a problem surfaces- once the analysis is complete. Often when a problem is detected, it can be too late and maintenance equipment and suppliers can be more expensive to mobilize, depending on weather and location variations.
While technology advancements and dynamic condition-based maintenance may be our future, interval-based oil changes and proactive prevention guarantees efficiency and safety today. We look forward to technology improvements in predictions, because you can’t prevent what you can’t predict. But where multi-million dollar investments are at stake, as Ben wisely said ““An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Sage Oil Vac
Filed Under: News, O&M