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Featured Conversation: Life Extension Solutions

Edward Wagner
Chief Digital Officer Sentient Science Corp. 

What are your duties with Sentient Science?

I’m the chief digital officer responsible for turning our customers’ hard assets like wind turbines into DigitalClone models that we can run computational tests on and ultimately make money for our customers from the data coming off those machines. We don’t only work with operators, though. We do the same for the gearbox, component, and lubrication suppliers that want to serve the operator base, as we calculate the components and services needed over time to extend asset life. I am responsible for engaging the operators and suppliers in a new digital business model to lower the cost of O&M.

Tell us about Sentient Science and its core philosophy.

Sentient Science’s goal is to help operators lower their operations and maintenance costs, to reduce the risk of failure of their assets and ultimately lower the cost of energy through the life extension of operator assets.

Sentient does this by applying a material science-based approach to machine failure developed under DoD contracts for the world’s largest operators — Army, Navy, Airforce — in an initiative to lower their cost of service. We applied these learnings under request by DoE to wind-turbine gearboxes. The rest is history. We now have 18,000 assets under contract and expect to get to 50,000 assets within those existing customers.

What are the problems with standard diagnostics vs. advanced prognostics?

What business problem do you want to solve? If you want better planning of your O&M budgets over 18 months, or if you want to extend the life of your assets, you need the forward visibility from advanced prognostics. We see things that sensors will never see, and we can alert the operator when we see problems occurring in bearings and gears before anyone thought possible. This gives us the ability to affect inventory carrying costs and lower warranty costs. We provide the foresight needed for better financing for new development, for negotiating better T&Cs, and insight into alternative supplier options. These are not the problems that can be solved with diagnostics.