The development of newer technologies and innovation has led wind turbines to become more robust and reliable.
But what happens when wind turbine parts fail or come out of warranty? Do you have a comprehensive strategy in place to avoid the downtime, lost output, disruption and perhaps penalties which can ensue?
Like any high-tech asset, they are not immune to accidents, breakdown and degradation. Consequently, every wind turbine operator should have a solid fall-back plan to utilise if and when a problem occurs. Any asset, domestic, commercial or industrial, needs to be underpinned with a comprehensive and effective back-on-track plan, and this is particularly true for a high capital cost machinery such as wind turbines. This is why wind turbine operators should review their asset management, repair and parts procurement strategy annually at least, if not monthly.
If your turbine parts fail and are no longer covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, the result will not just be an unexpected additional expense for repair or replacement but will result in loss of production thus income. There may also be in the worst case even penalty clauses for any hiatus in power production which will further drain your resources.
Like any electro-mechanical equipment, wind turbines will fail at some point. Nothing lasts forever. It’s not a question of if but when. As wind turbines’ warranties expire, operators face a number of crucial dilemmas with a substantial negative impact on the business.
Should you replace the faulty of failing part or repair it? Will a repair or replacement come with the warranty? Has the part been discontinued or is it difficult to acquire? Does technical documentation still exist for that part? Who has the expertise to do the work? Why did the part fail? All these questions require detailed investigation and analysis by experienced engineers and technicians to establish the root cause of the problem- if not, the new part may immediately fail again! Are there known weaknesses and/or performance issues with a particular part?
Operators need to adopt a holistic engineering solution to report failure symptom trends, epidemic failures, third-party module issues, and evidence of historic design quality and reliability problems.
Several factors are vital when developing a solution to ensure turbine repairs are carried out swiftly and efficiently so as to minimise downtime and disruption to operations. But the location, storage and transportation of turbine spare parts is often forgotten, yet these are crucially important. In many cases, spares are just kept close to the wind farm site in temporary buildings which do not offer the optimal environmental conditions the electro-mechanical parts deserve. The inevitable result is that when they are required it is found that the parts have degraded, become unusable or need to be repaired or refurbished before they can be installed. The solution to overcoming this problem is to store replacement parts centrally under strictly controlled environmental conditions. This way the sensitive electronic components that are particularly vulnerable to changes in temperature, humidity, static charges and the like, are kept risk-free and ready to be deployed effectively when needed.
Having your spare wind turbine parts stored in optimum conditions is important, but just one part of the jigsaw. Do you know how many parts you have, where they are located, and their age and viability?
Being able to track all your spare parts is equally important. You should have an efficient asset management system which will be able to provide 24/7 visibility of where a particular part is located, its age and condition. This will not only save valuable time in finding a spare part quickly but can will also aid your regular stock-taking exercises to determine if you have the up-to-date full set of replacements for your fleet of turbines.
These are just a few of many factors that need to be considered when managing wind turbine assets, factors that MWPS and its worldwide network of affiliate partners have many years’ experience handling effectively. Our solutions can decrease the time, effort and cost of managing your wind assets, helping you achieve a more productive, more efficient and greener business.
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