The maintenance of offshore wind turbines is very costly and has high logistics costs. With predictive maintenance and the use of Industrial IoT, efficiency increases and the number of maintenance calls decreases.
The challenge: Great effort in the operation and maintenance of wind turbines
Offshore wind turbines in particular pose major challenges for operators. Maintenance and operation are complicated by weather and sea state. A better alternative is remote control and monitoring of the equipment. This enables operators to optimize their service processes, realize significant savings potential and achieve better overall plant availability – serious arguments in view of the need to secure the power supply.
Specifically, this case involves frequency converters. They are the interface between power generation at the plant and the transmission grid. This makes them one of the most important components of a wind turbine in the field of power electronics. The manufacturer of the converters is Woodward Kempen GmbH*, which has equipped a total of around 18,000 plants with this technology.
The solution: Connect to the Industrial IoT to enable predictive maintenance
In the case of frequency inverters, an independent root cause analysis is required in the event of a fault. In addition, predicting potential breakdowns is useful for operators (predictive maintenance), so they can better plan visits by technicians. Woodward Kempen has commissioned Materna Information & Communications SE to develop such a solution.
Materna uses the IoT platform of Amazon Web Services (AWS). It is powerful and highly available, which makes it well suited for industrial applications. The solution developed by Materna monitors and records all power and sensor data at the frequency converter between the generator and the power grid. Then the data goes to the IoT platform. In the case of onshore facilities, this is done via mobile communications or at sea with a cable or satellite connection.
By evaluating the regularly incoming data, the plant operator gets an up-to-date insight into the status of the wind turbine and is informed about possible problems at short notice. The evaluation of data for predictive maintenance is particularly important for operators. This is done with an adaptive application that can detect patterns in the data that indicate potential errors. For example, unusual fluctuations in power generation indicate a problem with the generator. In this case, operators can schedule precision-fit maintenance at short notice and send technicians to the plant with the appropriate tools.
The result: High efficiency in operation and maintenance
Operators of onshore and offshore wind farms can use the IIoT solution to optimize the operation and maintenance of their plants. Above all, logistics processes become more efficient, as technically unnecessary trips to the plants are eliminated. With this solution, Woodward Kempen expands its range of services and obtains a unique selling proposition. With the new digital services and enhanced capabilities, the company is further expanding its market leadership.
In principle, the IoT solution can be transferred to other industries with just a few adjustments, for example to machinery and plant engineering, the manufacture of drive elements or motors, and to the energy industry.
*Woodward Kempen has since been split up and sold – the Renewable Power Systems and Protective Relay divisions have been acquired by Aurelius Equity Opportunities SE & Co. KGaA. MKCP Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH, led by Hamburg-based entrepreneur Michael Krieger, took over the shares in Woodward Power Solutions GmbH on May 1, 2020.