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Predictive maintenance of yaw drive gearboxes cut operating costs in half

By August 7, 2019 No Comments

A long-term development partnership between Bonfiglioli and Schaeffler has resulted in a compact Industry 4.0 solution for wind turbine azimuth drives.

How it works: Schaeffler Torque Sense and SmartCheck sensors record torque, speed, vibration, and temperature information. The data is then transmitted through a gateway, combined and processed using algorithms, which were developed by Bonfiglioli and based on more than 60 years of know-how in gear motors and dedicated specifically for the application.

Subsequently, the data will be made available for the users on the Bonfiglioli Cloud platform.

The Bonfiglioli Dashboard provides a clear overview of the collected information for the operator. Maintenance measures can be carried out in a load-oriented manner, unplanned system downtime can be minimized, and operating costs can be cut in half. On the Bonfiglioli dashboard the operator can also perform continuous control of the geared motor based on the data and consult an estimation of the remaining service life of the drive.

Abnormal behavior of the azimuth drive is reported as are critical conditions. Thus, maintenance intervals can be optimized to critical needs and necessary repairs can be made at favorable times. Additionally, drive control can be optimized to avoid overloading. Valuable results are a drastic reduction of unplanned downtime and significant increase in the profitability of a plant.

Concrete figures based on the example of a 2.3-MW wind turbine make this clear. Gaetano Ciaravella, Bonfiglioli’s Mechatronics & IoT Manager, reported on this at a recent conference. According to his presentation, currently, the availability of a wind turbine is falling from 95% in the first year to 82% in the 20th year of life with a median of 88.5%. At the same time, the yields of a turbine are falling by about 7% per year due to lower kWh prices. The operating costs account for approximately 75% of the total initial investment across 20 years.

About 50% of the operating and maintenance costs are attributable to unplanned interventions. Specifically, this means that for a 2.3 megawatt wind generator in 20 years operating costs of approximately €1.6 million are estimated, of which up to €1.1 million are due to unscheduled repair and maintenance.

With a relatively small investment in the system from Bonfiglioli and Schaeffler, operating costs can be reduced by up to 60%. There are certainly other advantages that are difficult to quantify due to the available data. They result from the possibility of adapting the electronic drives to environmental and operating conditions (eg. temperatures, wind hours per year, etc.), which has a direct and positive effect on the productivity of the wind generator.

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