By Jeff Walkup
For wind turbines, vibration analysis is the most widespread condition monitoring technique and is critical for components where the direct and indirect costs of failure can significantly affect O&M budgets. Vibration sensors applied to rotating components, such as the main bearing, gearbox, drivetrain and generator, are monitored in real-time using software-based analysis techniques. Data is also compared against a signal recorded during known healthy running operations – a machine’s vibration fingerprint. Complex algorithms are established over a predetermined time with the goal in capturing faults and other anomalies before substantial damages can develop or occur.
Those of us in the industry know the vital importance of being able to coordinate any repair activity during low wind seasons and/or when manpower, parts and crane mobilization are available. Having the data is one thing but the ability to prioritize and schedule is the next level.
Traditional and Technological
Traditional technologies, such as oil and grease analysis, filter examinations and detailed inspections (including the use of borescopes), confirm within which component a vibration is detected. These types of analysis help to identify defects in these components allowing for proactive maintenance scheduling, especially when used in conjunction with historical data on past failures. I cannot over emphasize importance of the ability to see all these analyses in one platform and to benchmark against others.
Real-time data provided by vibration sensors can alert operators to anomalies well in advance of catastrophic failure. Repairs can be planned for, and scheduled, proactively and can often fit into periods of low wind conditions when generation losses can be kept to a minimum.
There is a staggering amount of data recorded within an ever increasing number of tools designed to address failure modes offered by OEMs and their dedicated service providers. However, with the increasing number of turbines approaching end-of-service warranty, a gap in the monitoring responsibility and the lack of a detailed plan for monitoring transference may occur.
Closing the gap
There are hundreds of ways to approach condition monitoring. The sky’s the limit in the ways to track and report on the plethora of data and incidents discovered. However, the following questions remain: Are you using it, is it available, do you understand it, and are you willing to pay for it?
Condition monitoring is based on advanced analysis on various signals such as vibration, strain, and process signals. This is in combination with automation rules and algorithms for generating references and alarms. While a high degree of automation can be built-in to present conditions and alarms in a condensed form to the operator, it often requires an expert to dig deeper by using an advanced data mining tool. Working with a partner, such as Fluid Life, that understands these variables provides a true differentiator, allowing you to focus on what you need to do.
Condition monitoring support
Fluid Life offers condition monitoring support to bridge the gap in monitoring responsibility. Plus, with vibration data analysis coming soon to myLab, you’ll get a unified view of asset condition that integrates oil analysis, grease analysis and sensor data. We listen to our customers and understand the need to have effective tools and solutions. Our team also takes into consideration the cost and budgets associated and will work with you to provide the perfect solution for your unique requirements.