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OILS & LUBRICANTS


Automation can reduce turbine


lubrication costs


In common with any mechanical device, a wind energy system needs correct and timely


lubrication if it is to function reliably and predictably, explains Tim Veal, Lubrication Sales Manager at SKF.


DEMANDING CONDITIONS Wind turbines are routinely exposed to extremely demanding conditions, with vibration, high mechanical loads, contamination and moisture all being potential threats to operational efficiency, especially to critical rotating components such as bearings and gears.


Turbine servicing and maintenance can be an expensive exercise. For example, pitch bearings, yaw bearings and gears, generators and main bearings are all areas where the correct lubrication regime is not only critical, but as a manual activity, time consuming and driven by availability of the asset at the required time.


MAINTENANCE PROGRAMMES Traditionally the maintenance of many older, early generation turbines has been driven by a predetermined programme of regular service procedures. Within these, a manual lubrication regime is typically carried out, all at set intervals using set quantities of lubricants regardless of the actual operating condition of the components in question.


This approach is clearly wasteful and potentially adds to overall operating costs, especially in the case of offshore turbines. As a result, following years of experience and driven by the ever increasing demand to reduce asset management costs, methods of lubrication have moved towards the use of far more effective and reliable automated systems.


FEATURE SPONSOR


AUTOMATIC SYSTEMS


Automatic lubrication systems are now being adopted as a standard fit by the majority of turbine manufacturers and have been proven to provide significant improvements in operational reliability and efficiency.


This relatively low cost addition can provide a quick return on investment by increasing the availability of each turbine, extending maintenance intervals and preventing unforeseen failures of major mechanical components. As a direct consequence, not only are we seeing this improved reliability, but additional savings can also be achieved through proper lubricant handling and reduced consumption.


IMPROVING LUBRICATING REGIMES Currently there are many early wind turbines now being serviced and maintained by independent companies.


This 'aftermarket' or 'service market' is characterised by older, often smaller turbines that are going through upgrades to new technologies and techniques to improve and lengthen the mean time between visits.


The service providers, operator maintainers, OEM service organisations and turbine owners managing these units are requesting solutions for improved lubricating regimes, these ranging from the replacing and refilling, removing exhausted and spent lubricant, as well as training in maintaining and managing these assets.


ENSURING EFFICIENT MANAGEMENT OF OPERATIONAL COSTS In addition to the ability to reduce the number of service visits and improving reliability, operators are demanding feedback from these assets, to maximise energy production and provide the data to ensure efficient management of operational costs.


This requirement can be met by introducing remote condition monitoring, collecting data not only on rotating equipment, but also through the lubrication systems. Simple links to output data from the lubrication system, lubricant levels, lubrication cycle data, etc can all be retrieved and simple trending and/or operating conditions observed.


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www.windenergynetwork.co.uk


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