This year’s theme for the Wind O&M Dallas show is all about eliminating downtime, increasing reliability and optimizing fleet performance.
When components within a gearbox experience an unplanned failure, it eats into the operating budget and results in loss of revenue. Downtime for a gearbox failure can last between 6 days and two weeks, and sometimes longer, because it takes time and coordination to arrange an up-tower repair or replacement.
Today, most operators plan maintenance schedules by looking at past historical experiences to calculate probabilities into when a machine component may experience failure. The failure characteristics depend on the design of the wind turbine and the length of time it has been in service. But this is not an exact science. In fact, it results in many false negatives and false positives. If a failure of a critical component is not caught early enough it can cause damage to other components, which is why operators look to obtain advance warning of possible problems. Most have gone to condition monitoring systems, but by the time a sensor detects a problem, a component is already in failure. Some pair CBMs with SCADA to try to mitigate the risk as much as possible, but these CBM and SCADA systems can only detect failures in advance of at most 6 months. This is not enough time to do any preventative maintenance, so operators continually plan for corrective maintenance.
What’s unique about Sentient Science is we know the failures rates of the turbine and the subcomponents. By knowing the failure rates on a rolling forecast at different phases of an asset’s operational life, operators can build a preventative maintenance schedule. We do this by using materials science to study the microstructure of the materials that make up the bearing or the gear. Sentient’s DigitalClone software builds physics-based computational models of the components and gearbox to simulate actual operating conditions and determine the predictive life of each individual component and the gearbox system. Sentient offers life extension solutions, such as operational changes and a side by side supplier comparison, called Buy on Life, to ensure that the right components are used at each specific fleet site.