Wind Farm Maintenance and Associated Challenges (Part 4 of 6)

Wind Farm Maintenance and Associated Challenges

Most of the wind farms are newly constructed and within the warranty period of OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturers]. This has made OEMs as also primary providers of maintenance services for wind farms. At times, OEMs also work as independent service providers and hence are familiar with not only their own wind systems but also of the competitors. However, as the warranty period expires, utilities have to choose between extension of warranty/service contract with OEMs and developing in-house expertise to do maintenance considering long term life-cycle costs.

Given below are key aspects of wind farms from maintenance perspectives:

Asset Management:

  • Wind turbines consist of thousands of different parts and assemblies. Complex critical parts require proper tracking and configuration management, particularly with evolving technology advancements leading to change in configurations as existing wind farms expand
  • Asset downtime is required for most of the maintenance activities and any downtime has a direct impact on the revenue
  • Replacements of large assemblies is very expensive not just because of the assembly cost but also additional expenses associated with logistics, removal, and recommissioning
  • Degradation of components are very common considering the nature of wind energy and exposure of rain, heat, thunderstorms

Tools, Equipment and Spares:

  • Specialized tools for carrying out maintenance, instrumentation, and calibration
  • Heavy equipment like cranes, trucks, vessels could be required based on maintenance need
  • Spare parts inventory optimal balance is required managing the service levels while keeping the inventory costs low

Maintenance Crew and Safety:

  • One of the key decisions related to maintenance strategy is to outsource maintenance vs do it in-house
  • Health and Safety is of prominent importance given that crew is operating at extreme heights for maintenance. This becomes even for challenging for offshore turbines
  • Specific qualifications and certifications (like Wind Turbine Service Technician Certificate) are required for technician roles. There is a growing demand for wind turbine technicians

Work Management:

  • Wind turbines come with OEM recommended preventive maintenance guidelines, so timely preventive maintenance needs to be performed
  • Different sensors and monitoring equipment send data about the current status of different parts of wind turbine. Data from these sensors need to be read to assess the condition and trigger a work order for inspection and maintenance if needed
  • Wind energy is still a nascent industry and critical data capture of inspections, failures and work execution details are important for any downstream analysis to spot insights and move towards predictive maintenance

Author Details

Ganesh Murai

Ganesh is a seasoned consultant with over 19 years of experience in Process Design, Solution Design, Integrated Solution Architecture and Technical Solution Implementation in various functional areas like Supply Chain, Business Spend Management, Work & Asset Management, Field Mobility, Warehousing & Logistics. He has worked for clients across various industries like Utilities, Railroad, Oil & Gas, Logistics and Retail customer. He has presented in global forums like Maximo World and GO Maximo on multiple topics. He is a certified Maximo consultant and certified Coupa Consultant.

Vijeth Shanbhag

Vijeth Shanbhag is a Senior Consultant with Infosys and has 8+ years of experience in Supply Chain Management with industry experience in Energy & Utilities and Manufacturing sector.

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