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Combining oil and vibration data: a new route to a complete view of turbine health

The constantly evolving field of data analytics in wind offers untapped opportunities for wind farm owners and operators, helping to reduce the cost of producing wind energy significantly. To reach the next stage of digitalisation in wind requires pioneers to explore the options and create new ways of working.

If you’ve been following ONYX InSight’s research at the cutting edge of predictive maintenance, you’ll have seen that we have been conducting laboratory and field trials alongside a leading expert in industrial lubricants.

After two years of hard work, we can reveal the results. Our trials have proven that digitalisation of oil analysis increases the quality and value of data extracted from a wind turbine.

The bottom line is that by using sensors to digitally monitor machine and oil health, wind farm owners and operators can significantly reduce O&M costs.

Below, we take you through our investigation and explore how our findings will change the wind industry – and how wind farm owners and operators will benefit.

What challenges did our investigation uncover?

Many wind turbines still have legacy offline oil monitoring. However, our investigation has shown turbines are at risk of unnecessary damage due to the inconsistent data reports generated by this method.

Offline oil samples, typically taken every 6-12 months, lack the consistency to trend and draw trustworthy conclusions. This means that key indicators of oil degradation can lie undiscovered for extended periods. Left unchecked, low levels of additives in oil – that can signal the lubrication is not operating optimally – can potentially result in metal-to-metal contact and surface damage, leading to costly repairs such as bearing replacements and even gearbox failure.

Offline oil sampling also opens owners and operators up to the risk of contaminants causing damage to the turbine machinery undetected. In applications such as detecting water in oil, offline laboratory analysis of the oil gives too late a warning – potentially up to 12 months after the onset of damage.

Is there a way out for the wind industry?

There is – online oil condition sensors. Real-time, online data logging is the only way to generate data with the required consistency for advanced data analytics. Empowered with this knowledge, and with the right data analytics partner, owners and operators can identify trends and provide further insight to support O&M activity.

Our investigation opens the way to decisions based on accurate, real-time data, helping owners and operators to proactively manage issues as they arise by detecting problems at an early stage. This reduces the risk of damage and, crucially, the cost of maintenance and repair.

So, what practical implications has our investigation led to?

Our investigation pointed to clear and significant benefits when combining different data streams. When oil data is combined with vibration monitoring, machine learning algorithms identify faults more effectively and with greater confidence which, alongside real-world engineering expertise, provides O&M teams with better insights to inform planning.

Using the insights from our investigation, we have been able to offer a game changing multi-data stream technology for online oil monitoring that enables us to diagnose issues with wind turbines at a higher accuracy rate than ever, enhancing the savings which our leading predictive maintenance services can make from operations and maintenance costs.

The importance of combining multiple data streams on efficient and profitable wind farm operations is explored further in ONYX InSight’s whitepaper ‘How smart digitalisation will help you thrive in a post-pandemic world,’ which is available to DOWNLOAD HERE >>

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