Operations and maintenance are critical elements and a significant amount of the costs associated with a wind farm. Having a well-planned maintenance program will ensure wind turbines are running efficiently and at their highest capacity. Overall general maintenance, up-tower repairs, and down-tower remanufacturing processes help to reduce the total cost of energy production and extend the life expectancy of a wind turbine.
After halons were phased out of fire suppression systems back in the 1990s, it created a need for alternatives. The challenge was that halons were very effective in extinguishing most types of fires, electrically non-conductive, safe for limited human exposure, and leave no residue. The disadvantage of halons and why there was a ban placed on them is due to their strong ozone depletion potential. Over the past several decades, several fire suppression agents and technologies have emerged. In this post, we will explore aerosol fire suppression systems.
The most common types of wind turbine failure are turbine blades, generators, and gearboxes. Regular maintenance and inspections of wind turbines create challenges due to the remote locations of wind farms and the size and height of the turbines. During regularly scheduled maintenance, it can be difficult to access the massive rotor blades and evaluate the blade materials and the complex surface areas. New technologies like the use of drones for blade inspections are being used, which aids in the inspection process. However, without proper monitoring and maintenance, it can lead to component failure.
Fire in wind turbines is the second most common type of accident reported after blade failure. While certain types of wind turbines have a higher occurrence rate of fire, all wind turbines have fire risk factors. Within the nacelle, highly flammable materials including, hydraulic oil and plastics, are located near electrical wiring and equipment. A fire can quickly start and spread if there is an ignition source like an electrical arc or a fault within the transformer.
The two types of wind farm repowering are full repowering and partial repowering. Full wind farm repowering is when the aging wind turbines are decommissioned and removed and replaced with newer, larger, and more efficient wind turbines at the same site. Partial repowering involves keeping the existing wind turbine and replacing key components to improve power capacity, reliability, and extend the lifespan.
Wind turbines stand over 300 ft tall with each blade measuring over 100 ft long with blade speeds of up to 180 mph. Fire protection for these giant structures poses a variety of unique risks. Because there is no formal reporting process of reporting and recording fire incidents in wind turbines, it’s hard to get an accurate count. However, in a 2015 report, Towering Inferno, completed by GCube, a clean energy insurance provider, cited 50 wind turbine fire incidents.
Rapid advancements and changes in technology are challenging how machine shops run. Maintaining the status quo and not adapting and embracing these new developments, will leave you behind. In this era of what has been coined as Industry 4.0, there is a fundamental shift towards digital industrial technology. The ability to gather and analyze mass amounts of data across machines is transforming machining processes and operations to become faster, more efficient, and flexible.
Hybrid manufacturing is a combination of additive manufacturing (AM) and subtractive manufacturing within the same machine. Both processes on their own have remarkable capabilities, but when combined, it opens up a whole new level of design and manufacturing. The machines allow you to make and finish the part in a single setup, reducing error because the AM part does not have to leave one machine to be reset on a second machine.
The purpose of Hybrid manufacturing is to combine the strengths of additive manufacturing (AM) and subtractive machining. Using a single machine, it creates the ability to produce finished parts in the same machine using both processes. Hybrid manufacturing joins the best features of traditional subtractive machining with additive manufacturing.
Most machine shops have, at some point, felt the pains from the labor shortage. In July 2019, nearly a half of million manufacturing jobs were left unfilled. Skilled manufacturing and machining jobs are becoming increasingly more challenging to fill, and the skills gap is widening. According to a recent study conducted by Deloitte & The MFG Institute by 2028, we could see 2.4M open positions in the U.S. manufacturing industry due to talent shortage.
Additive Manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, builds parts through a CAD generated 3D model by adding single layers of material and fusing the layers together. AM first emerged in 1987 and has been steadily growing ever since, with more leaps and bounds in recent years. We identify the seven AM processes and their advantages and disadvantages.
The key to having an optimal finished part starts with choosing the right material. By narrowing down the types of machining materials that are best suited for the part will lead to the selection of the most appropriate and cost-effective material. Here are a few things to consider when selecting materials.