Monitoring of windmill bearings
Challenges and Solutions
One of the major issues that the windmill industry faces is Monitoring its structural condition. Condition monitoring, fault diagnosis and structural health monitoring(SHM) are an essential part of predictive maintenance, as well as to provide early warning of damage. This is especially true in the market of off-shore wind turbines which is the next generation of wind energy and there are huge expenses related to the servicing in the sea. The reliability must be of 25 years for off-shore turbines against 20 years on the ground.
Laulagun Bearings produces different types of bearings for wind turbines, both blade (pitch) bearings and slewing rings (yaw) that generate up to 10 MW of power. The smartization of the bearings is the current innovation path for Laulagun Bearings. The objective is to integrate some health monitoring into the bearing.
The solution is done through autonomous sensor nodes for temperature, stress and vibration measurements, including the wireless operation of the sensor nodes that needs to work in hostile and hard to access environments.
The Gateone-project is part of SAE initiative and acts as an Accelerator, allowing a fast match from the existing capabilities and developments at IK4-Ikerlan, consisting in this case of a miniaturized wireless sensor (temperature, strain and vibration) module, and the needs of the company. More specifically, Gateone helps to release the risk onto a specific issue that could be a show stopper. In the frame of the Gateone-project it was possible to adapt the existing system to the complex situation of the bearing where a radio signal must be sent from a metallic environment.
Marketing of the new bearings will start through discussion/negotiation with customer and evaluation “in the field” along 2017 to get the feedback from the windmill customers, followed by industrialisation/qualification in 2018. The company delivers between 3000 and 5000 products a year with revenue of 40M€. It is estimated that this monitoring capability will increase the revenue of Laulagun Bearings by 5M€ over the next 5 years (until 2021).