Integrate predictive maintenance and inventory data to mitigate supply chain squeeze says Windscope

More effective integration of predictive maintenance data and inventory data from component suppliers will be central to mitigating the impact of supply chain challenges on operational wind energy projects says Windscope – a hardware-free platform for maximising wind turbine health and availability.
Integrate predictive maintenance and inventory data to mitigate supply chain squeeze says Windscope
Replacing a wind turbine gearbox. Courtesy of NREL.

At present, the wind industry faces a multitude of pressures in the face of inflation and the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted manufacturing and stretched supply chains.

Concurrently, several critical issues have emerged within the wind energy supply chain that impact component sourcing and maintenance. As wind turbine fleets age, the need for regular maintenance and component replacement becomes more pressing. However, significantly increased lead times for both resource and hardware are causing significant periods of turbine downtime, increasing operator generation losses.

Inflationary pressures have also resulted in higher costs for both new components and maintenance. Asset owners and operators are grappling with budget constraints, making it imperative to optimise their resources. Furthermore, the growing prominence of OEMs from outside Europe has diversified the market and led to new complications in component sourcing, highlighting a requirement for better foresight to ensure financial performance of wind assets.

To address these challenges and promote efficient management of tight inventory schedules, Windscope has called for closer partnerships in the 3rd party and OEM supply chains, in particular between asset managers and their component suppliers – facilitated by predictive maintenance software platforms.

By gaining access to component health data from operational fleets suppliers will be able to anticipate when these components require replacement, enabling more efficient inventory management and procurement planning. In turn, keeping asset owners updated on a live basis about component stocks and their availability can help to reduce unplanned downtime, and enable asset managers to better allocate resources and prioritise maintenance activities.

“To further the goals of the industry in a challenging economic climate, we need to create a more transparent environment in which predictive analytics can be used to optimise maintenance of assets, taking into account lead times for components and supply shortages” said Joe Donnelly, CEO, Windscope. “Ability to understand component condition is the keystone around which an optimised supply chain can start to form. The immediate benefits of such an approach are clear, but there is also huge potential for exciting innovations, such as live tracking of component prices for asset owners, enabling them to make well-informed procurement decisions and secure components at the most favourable pricing. In the future, we could even see automated ordering of components based on condition, further streamlining the procurement process, and reducing the administrative burden on stretched asset management and engineering teams.”

Windscope is currently developing tools to enable asset managers to pair their inventory data with predictive maintenance data.

“As the wind energy industry navigates complex supply chain issues, collaboration and innovative solutions are vital to success” Mr Donnelly added. By creating stronger connections between operators and their supply chain, we can help overcome the challenges posed by aging fleets, increased lead times, and rising costs - ultimately ensuring the continued growth of renewable energy.”

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