For motorists, it goes without saying that their cars are permanently monitored by a range of different sensors. Diagnostic functions inform drivers in good time of any changes before they turn into problems. Continual monitoring is a way of protecting investments imperceptibly in the background, thereby increasing the reliability and operational safety of the vehicle.
When it comes to wind power installations, however, many operators are still deciding not to make use of continual rotor blade monitoring, choosing instead to carry out visual inspections. And while this may save money in the short-term, it will become a costly risk as time goes on.
Hans Schlingmann, Head of Energy Solutions
“The rotor blades in particular are put under a great deal of stress as a result of storms, icing, lightning and gusts of wind,” explains Hans Schlingmann, Head of the Energy Solutions division at Weidmüller. “Damage can often occur and go unnoticed, and is frequently only detected during routine checks, by which point there will already be a large amount of repair work required.”
This can be actively addressed through the use of a conditionmonitoring system, which measures and analyses changes to natural rotor blade vibrations on an ongoing basis. As a result, the underlying problems behind service calls can be detected in good time, and repair measures can be planned in a proactive manner.
“Our BLADEcontrol® monitoring system continually monitors the condition of each individual rotor blade, and shows this information to the operators in the form of an online overview: green for normal function, yellow for minor damage and red for serious damage,” says Schlingmann about the intuitive traffic light logic.
When critical conditions are detected, the system sends a signal to the installation control unit, which stops the installation and thereby prevents damage such as blade breakages, for example. In parallel to this, all evaluations are also transmitted to the Weidmüller Monitoring Centre, where experts analyse the data and use trend analyses to prepare concrete action recommendations for the operator. In order to do this, they draw on the experience of around 4,000 operating years from the over 1,500 systems currently installed.
In addition to damage to the rotor blades themselves, BLADEcontrol® can also detect aerodynamic imbalances, loose parts in the blade and misalignments of the hubs or pitch. The monitoring system therefore makes an additional contribution to the long-term operational reliability of the installation. An investment in continual rotor blade monitoring will also pay itself off in particular due to the increased availability during the winter months, when the key ice detection function with automatic restart will really come into its own.
You might also be interested in:
BLADEcontrol® for early damage and ice detection
Wind energy – individual solutions from a single source
Published in December 2016
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