Monitoring wind turbines

A new solution for online condition monitoring of wind turbines for both OEMs and end-users has been announced by Bently Nevada Products.

A new solution for online condition monitoring of wind turbines for both OEM’s and end-users has been announced by Bently Nevada Products.

According to Richard Chapman, General Manager of Bently Nevada Products, the new package has already logged over one year of operation on wind turbines and is intended for both factory installation on new turbines as well as field retrofits of existing turbines.

“The justification to monitor these machines lies primarily in maintenance savings. These machines are often remotely located and access is restricted due to the machinery being located at the top of towers, so nobody looks at them regularly. Small problems – such as a bearing that needs to be replaced – go undetected and progress to large failures,” he says.

“A $5,000 bearing replacement can easily turn into a $250,000 ordeal involving cranes, service crews flown into remote sites, gearbox replacements, and generator rewinds – not to mention lost production. The use of information from the monitoring system will help manage such scenarios. A single ‘save’ can more than pay for a wind farm’s entire condition monitoring system,” he adds.

Recognising the above operational issues, insurers in Europe, where wind power is particularly well-established, are requiring overhaul of turbines after five years or 40,000 hours of operation unless the turbine is instrumented with a certified monitoring system. Insurer Allianz is leading these efforts and the Bently Nevada system has already received Allianz certification.

Built on the company’s Trendmaster Pro hardware and System 1 software platforms, the system monitors vibration, temperature, and a variety of other machinery parameters indicative of mechanical health. System sensors and signal processing algorithms have been adapted to meet the unique needs of wind turbines. Special acceleration enveloping algorithms have been introduced that allow earlier and more reliable detection of failures, particularly on the wind turbine gearboxes, an area of special concern.

The system provides continuous, automatic monitoring in addition to critical diagnostic data when needed for quick root cause analysis. Remote access allows users to view all data and information from anywhere an appropriate network connection is available. Automated data analysis is also available which provides operators with real time intelligent advisories when a problem is detected.

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