Acoem saves the Day as Wind Turbines Keep on Spinning

Energy-generating wind turbines need regular condition monitoring to ensure they are in optimum condition.

The Acoem team, located in South Australia, recently completed a condition monitoring survey of a wind farm energy company comprising 60 wind turbines located in Victoria.

The use of Acoem’s smart vibration analysis instrument FALCON, to detect potential faults in wind turbines has saved a business in Victoria from unexpected downtime. The FALCON detected severe drivetrain (assembly of rotor-main shaft-gearbox and generator) faults, allowing the customer to act quickly and put in place corrective action plans.

During the survey, a series of faults were detected, one of these could have potentially led to a catastrophic failure.

Turning opportunities into actions

Getting an opportunity to demonstrate to a wind farm customer in Ballarat, Acoem team had a breakthrough using the FALCON. The team found that 2 out of 4 wind turbines surveyed as an initial trail were almost at potential failure level, which the customer was informed about. Noticing the severity and risks to the wind farm, the customer took a proactive approach by engaging the Smart Industry team to carry out a full survey on all turbines.

Partha Ravi, Acoem Reliability Engineer, who has strong experience and knowledge in wind turbines, designed the measurement collection strategy including the safe access plans and procedures.

Every day, 6-7 turbines were surveyed, data collected, and analysed and that information sent directly back to the customer.

The expert Smart Industry team supplied the customer a matrix ranking method on the turbines indicating the driveline condition from ‘worst’ to ‘best’. This critical information assisted the customer to prioritise their maintenance plans.

This chart shows the performance of two similar wind turbines, the blue line is in a good/expected condition, whereas the red line is at an unacceptable condition –  indicating corrective action is required.

Acoem investment solution

The type of monitoring solution, periodic or permanent online, on each turbine was provided to the customer. The flexibility of the proposals helped the user to decide the investment and the scale of asset monitoring, while also assisting in capital costs.

Detecting faults is complicated in wind turbines due to complex driveline components and safe access. This means if a failure happens or if a defect occurs, it can often be a long time before it is noticed. If there was a disastrous event, tracing how it happened could take a lot of resources. Also, considering that the delivery time of replacement parts and servicing often comes from outside Australia, this impacts the customer’s machinery overall downtime.

Local service for local business

Most remote online monitoring of Australian wind farms is carried out internationally. However, the Acoem team are based in Adelaide, South Australia, and are ready and capable to monitor wind farms nationally. This ensures quick service and support in a local time zone. All online monitoring equipment and spare parts are stocked locally.

“The Acoem smart vibration analysis instrument makes vibration analysis accessible to all,” said Partha.

“Vibration and Temperature Measurements can be collected remotely and safely, all while reducing data collection times. The Acoem team is here to help Australian businesses monitor their machinery’s condition more effectively and cost efficiently,” he added.

Using an Australian team improves service speed and ensures that there are engineers, technicians and rotating machinery specialists ready to assist. All it takes is a quick phone call or email to alert a change of condition to the customer.

“Shout out to team Acoem for accurate analysis!” – the happy customer exclaimed.

“A fantastic achievement that saved a lot of downtime and money for the customer,” said Mark Brooks, Acoem Australia & New Zealand Business Manager.

“The capabilities of the Acoem FALCON, combined with the expertise and determination of the SA team, came together to successfully avoid a potentially disastrous and expensive situation,” added Stephen Read, Acoem Australasia Reliability Manager.