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Condition Monitoring Systems for Wind Turbines

Vibration-based condition monitoring systems (CMS) have over several years become well established for monitoring the mechanical drive train condition of wind energy converters. As a result of the large investments required for multi-MW and offshore turbines, and the necessity for cost-optimized maintenance, information pertaining to the condition of the mechanical drive train is becoming increasingly important.

Moreover, the restricted accessibility of offshore plants constitutes an important reason for expanding the condition monitoring to structural components of the wind energy converter and to refine the monitoring of the drive train with supplementary methods.

In February 2012, the Association of German Engineers (VDI) held a conference in Bremen, Germany, which focused specifically on CMS. Around 170 experts of this industrial sector met to discuss the latest developments regarding dynamics of on- and offshore wind plants and risks involved.

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Especially offshore wind plants are often difficult to access. Condition Monitoring helps to improve the schedule for maintenance to avoid the consequences of failure, before the failure occurs.

Thomas Gellermann, expert for machinery diagnostics at the Allianz Center for Technology (AZT), was one of the speakers and gave a presentation about Allianz Center for Technology (AZT) requirements for condition monitoring. In order to establish one of the first quality standards for CMS, the AZT published a detailed technical catalog of requirements already in 2003. These requirements have proven reliable as basis for system assessments offered by the AZT, and have evidenced their usefulness in practice.

Condition Monitoring Systems on the road to success

In preparation of his presentation, Gellermann conducted a survey amongst producers of CMS at home and abroad, to receive details about the distribution of these systems. Sixteen manufacturers reported over 23,000 installed systems, which proves impressively the success condition monitoring has already achieved.

“CMS have proved themselves and have delivered a very good performance in practice," explains the Allianz-expert. “The payback period for these systems is about two to five years. Nevertheless, the numbers are quite remarkable, we would not have expected this result.”

Thomas Gellermann also suggested not only to improve the systems, but also to extend them to other wind turbine components, such as the tower structure, rotor blades and the foundation.

You can find detailed information on the extension of the scope of Condition Monitoring Systems in our factsheet.

If you are interested in the full technical paper, please contact the author at: Thomas.Gellermann@allianz.com