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CMMS and wind turbine maintenance

CMMS and wind turbine maintenance

Thursday 23 december 2021

If you own a wind farm, you produce electricity thanks to the wind's energy, participate in the reduction of pollution levels and develop an efficient green solution. Historically appearing as windmills in the Middle East around the year 600, the first electric wind turbines were born at the end of the 19th century in the United States thanks to the inventor Charles Francis Bush. Today, despite the supremacy of fossil fuels inherited from the 20th century, wind energy is becoming more and more important in our society, thanks to your investment.

In order to facilitate your operation and maintain your assets in an optimal way, it is essential to rely on a CMMS of last generation. CMMS stands for Computerized Maintenance Management System. An interruption of a few hours in the operation of a wind turbine, or a loss of output can very quickly have significant financial consequences. How to include a CMMS tool in your wind energy production activity? What are the advantages and benefits in the short, medium and long term? In this article, we will study the contribution of CMMS to the wind energy sector.

THE WIND ENERGY SECTOR

Wind energy is one of the renewable solutions that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Unlike fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming, the destruction of many ecosystems and air pollution, renewable energies, such as wind turbines, are one of the sustainable solutions for the future of our planet.

In Europe, the use of wind turbines has increased considerably between 2010 and 2020. We have gone from 84,920 MW to 207,747 MW in just 10 years. According to an American study by the National Science Foundation, it has been shown that the installation of four million wind turbines would make it possible to meet half of the world's energy demand in 2030, with minimal impact on the environment. With both offshore and onshore installations, Europe is one of the regions with the largest installed wind power capacity in the world.

Despite its potential, it is important to be aware of the challenges the wind industry faces in its rise. The encroachment of wind farms on natural areas can be viewed negatively, hence the need to foster a harmonious coexistence between local people, wildlife and wind turbines. Optimal deployment increases the commitment of all and reduces the noise and wave impact of wind turbines on the environment, both offshore and onshore. New designs and control strategies for wind turbines could emerge through the work of all. These opportunities still offer a bright future to this sector in the making.

So, if you are a wind energy professional or if you want to start your own business, investing in wind farms is the right choice to help the planet. Wind is a safe and sustainable resource that is just waiting to be exploited. For this activity to be efficient, we will study together the importance of a good maintenance of its assets and consequently of an accomplished CMMS software.

THE MAINTENANCE OF WIND TURBINES

To obtain an efficient result from your wind farm, the maintenance of your equipment has a primary impact on all aspects of production: profitability, safety, environmental compliance, asset life and consumer confidence.

The three main components that need to be serviced regularly are the gearbox, the generator and the turbine blades. These components account for 80% of the total maintenance cost of the wind turbine. Servicing can be costly due to the vehicles and vessels required to access the remote sites of most wind farms and the elevation systems to reach the components. Weather conditions can also lead to failures, maintenance difficulties and long-term downtime.

The massive configuration of the turbines and its thousands of delicate moving parts, requiring specific maintenance, can complicate the maintenance stage. A wrong operation can trigger a breakdown very quickly.

Faced with these challenges, you have two choices: perform maintenance only when necessary or perform preventive maintenance. The first approach is the most expensive and leads to a reduction in the life of your assets as well as numerous unscheduled interventions. However, the second approach would not help reduce failures either. But how to intervene intelligently on a wind turbine?

As a result of these findings, the wind industry is now increasingly integrating Internet of Things (IoT technologies) and artificial intelligence solutions to boost asset performance. Condition monitoring systems and predictive analytics are particularly valued when the occurrence of critical issues needs to be flagged.

In order to address the industry's key maintenance issues such as high costs, lack of historical data and shortage of qualified O&M (Operations and Maintenance) technicians, the wind energy industry needs an efficient maintenance program. This means a modern CMMS that is tailored to the specific needs of the industry, flexible to evolve, and designed to connect to all ERP and sensor technologies.

Preventing failures instead of running turbines to failure is the only way to minimize unplanned component failures that lead to power outages. Deploying a reliable CMMS is therefore the first and most important step in controlling and predicting these failures.

THE CONTRIBUTION OF CMSS FOR WIND ENERGY 

First of all, let's remember that CMMS is a computer-assisted maintenance management system. This tool must be an integral part of the company's culture to be functional. If, at the beginning, the integration of its use can cause many changes in your organization and be perceived as a disruption by your employees, the CMMS quickly becomes a major asset in the achievement of critical objectives, especially in wind power plants.

The management and exploitation of historical data of your assets are great contributions of the CMMS. The performance of your equipment is evaluated and provides you with data on the status of machines, spare parts and possible future failures. The goal is to considerably reduce maintenance costs.

This will materialize by the recovery of the necessary data by your technical teams as soon as they need it, for analysis and adequate decision making according to the problems encountered and evaluated. Thus, a good preventive and predictive maintenance program allows you to correctly plan the missions of your employees. Identifying and frequently measuring parameters and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will ensure the sustainability of your assets and your business.

CONCLUSION

Predicting wind turbine component failures through condition monitoring data will increase your return on investment and help you plan your strategy for upgrading and modernizing your equipment. A good CMMS system is scalable and will extend the life of your wind farm, optimize your spare parts inventory, and increase employee efficiency in terms of scheduling and costs by preventing costly unplanned downtime.

The deployment of a CMMS, constant training of your employees and the addition of artificial intelligence to your assets will allow you to better anticipate problems and help you develop your activities and services. Your maintenance will thus go much further (and will become prescribable).

 

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