Low Cost Computing Technology has Changed the Game
A lot has changed in computing over the last few years. Firstly everyone has a mobile device in their pocket, delivering more computing power than most people need. Secondly, the explosion in embedded computing means it is now possible to buy a fully functioning PC that is smaller than a computer mouse and costs less than £5. Despite these advances, many wind farms are still serviced using pen-and-paper checklists and monitored using outdated and expensive electronics.
The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is a phrase used to describe physical devices and software that are network-connected in order to collect and exchange data. Many devices in the home are already internet-connected, and industrial applications are not far behind. At Romax InSight, we believe that the IoT philosophy is key for predictive maintenance and better data collection – we deploy condition monitoring systems (CMS), sensors, mobile applications and cloud-based software tools that all exchange information seamlessly, then use this information to help owners and operators to make better O&M decisions and reduce costs.
Taking Forward New Ideas for Wind
Field Pro is a mobile application used by wind farm engineers and technicians for servicing and inspections. We developed Field Pro to replace old fashioned pen-and-paper checklists, and to collect consistent data that is synchronised with a web application for quickly generating reports. Field Pro first proved to be a great benefit for our engineers delivering routine turbine inspections and End of Warranty campaigns, and we’ve now got clients around the world using it for their own sites.
Field Pro is just one piece of our IoT puzzle – another piece is ecoCMS, a low-cost condition monitoring system (CMS) for collecting vibration data. Data from ecoCMS is hosted in the cloud and analysed by a web-based software tool, Fleet Monitor, which in turn generates inspection punch lists. This information is pushed to Field Pro, which is then used to deliver the turbine inspection and pushes inspection findings straight back to the monitoring engineer using Fleet Monitor. All the applications share the databases so passing information around is easy. Compare this to the traditional approach using paper-based checklists, standalone CMS software and numerous PDF reports. The benefits of an IoT approach are huge – not just time-saving and cost-saving, but also delivering more consistent data and the ability to make better informed decisions about when to inspect or maintain a turbine.
Our IoT approach allows easy integration of existing data sources plus low cost computing to add valuable information into the analytics of predictive maintenance and turbine service activity
Data Integration in Action: Fleet Monitor showing vibration trend with inspection data from Field Pro pulled through and overlaid on the trend