Reducing costs: the solution lies in predictive maintenance
The most effective way to cut these expenses is through predictive maintenance. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems allow operators to watch for problems or reduced performance and use advanced data analysis to foresee maintenance needs.
Predictive tools like Condition Monitoring Systems (CMS) play a crucial role. These systems gather and study around 250 physical data points, such as torque and force measurements, noise patterns, electrical strain, oil quality, and main bearing health. Sensors collect this information, and then AI or machine learning make the predictions more precise while reducing false alerts as the system becomes more established and the number of installations grows.
The advantages of using CMS are easy to understand. One provider of monitoring systems asserts that 90% of developing issues are detected 5 months before they become a problem, leading to a 175% annual return on investment due to less downtime and up to a 50% decrease in urgent maintenance trips.
Predictive maintenance drives 175% annual ROI for offshore wind farms
Moreover, enhancing quality control diminishes the chances of accidents, ultimately leading to potential reductions in insurance costs.
An integral component of this procedure involves sending sensor data to the cloud and subsequently to the client’s IT system, where the data is gathered, stored, and analyzed.
Typically, sensor data is transferred via underwater cables, providing numerous advantages: it’s swift, secure, and offers cost-effective transmission of substantial data volumes. Nevertheless, wired communication does come with certain drawbacks that can be mitigated through the implementation of a wireless alternative at the same location.
Why have both wired and wireless networks in an offshore wind farm?
For those who already have a wired connection to their wind farm, integrating a wireless system as a complement is a strategic consideration. Integrating new sensors into a wireless network is far less complex than adding points to an existing legacy system. To capture essential data, you simply position your sensors where needed and activate them. This eliminates the need for extensive cabling, resulting in both time and cost savings, and expediting access to additional sensor data.
Furthermore, by establishing a dedicated wireless network for your SCADA data, you ensure independent transmission of findings, unaffected by other data sources. This real-time information empowers maintenance teams to make prompt decisions on which issues to address and when. According to Turbit, this swift action can boost output by up to 5% through faster corrective measures.
While creating a new offshore wind farm with exclusive wireless connectivity can cost as little as 10% of the wired alternative and has quicker implementation, it’s important to note that satellite and cellular connections typically involve monthly usage fees and are suitable for relatively moderate data volumes. Hence, a blend of wired and wireless setups is often explored by operators in practice.
However, introducing a wireless network isn’t always straightforward for offshore wind farms, particularly when they exceed the reach of cellular networks. While 4G/LTE services generally extend up to 12 nautical miles from the coast, wind farms can be situated as far as 43 miles offshore, resulting in a coverage gap.
This gap can be bridged with a private cellular network, offering substantial throughput and robust data security. Nevertheless, the setup process for this option can be both expensive and time-consuming.