Provider of data analytics and engineering expertise to the global wind industry, Onyx InSight, has launched a multi data-stream technology for online oil monitoring that increases clarity, reduces risk and saves considerable operations & maintenance (O&M) costs for the wind industry.
Blyth offshore wind farm. Courtesy of Onyx InSight
Over the last two years, Onyx InSight has conducted a series of laboratory and field trials, alongside a leading expert in industrial lubricants, to develop the most innovative and advanced data analytics solution for the market. These trials have proven that digitalisation of oil analysis increases the quality and value of data extracted from a wind turbine and that by using sensors to digitally monitor machine and oil health, wind farm owners and operators can significantly reduce O&M costs by decreasing risk. Furthermore, the trials also demonstrated the benefits of combining multiple data streams for a more accurate picture of turbine health.
Oil monitoring is essential for the long-term productivity of wind assets. However, relying only on legacy offline monitoring leaves turbines at risk of damage due to inconsistent data reports that prevent owners and operators from making pivotal, cost saving decisions for their fleets.
Offline oil samples, typically taken every 6-12 months, lack the consistency to trend and draw trustworthy conclusions. This means that key indicators of oil degradation can lie undiscovered for extended periods. Left unchecked, low levels of additives in oil – that can signal the lubrication is not operating optimally – can potentially result in metal-to-metal contact and surface damage, leading to costly repairs such as bearing replacements and even gearbox failure.
Another risk factor of offline oil sampling, which occurs most frequently during maintenance procedures, is the slow response to detecting contaminants such as water in the oil, which is highly detrimental to machine health. In this instance, offline laboratory analysis of the oil would give too late a warning – potentially up to 12 months after the onset of damage.
Online oil condition sensors generate consistent data, enabling analysis tools to identify trends and provide further insight to support O&M activity. This empowers owners and operators to make decisions based on accurate, real-time data and proactively manage issues as they arise by detecting problems at an early stage, thereby reducing the risk of damage and the cost of maintenance and repair.
Maintenance quality also needs to be managed and monitored effectively in order to reduce the risk of unintended damage as a result of regular O&M activity. By responding in real-time, owners and operators are not bound by up-tower O&M schedules or laboratory waiting times and can prevent stopping or derating a turbine by rectifying the problem before any damage develops.
Through integrating oil and vibration analysis, owners and operators gain the most comprehensive view of machine and oil health, above and beyond current best practice
Further insights from the initial study demonstrated the benefits of combining different data sources for improved machine health diagnostics. When oil data is combined with vibration monitoring, machine learning algorithms identify faults more effectively and with greater confidence which, alongside real-world engineering expertise, provides O&M teams with better insights to inform planning.
Particle counters alone are notoriously susceptible to false alerts. Combining vibration condition monitoring systems with particle data mitigates this and significantly reduces false alerts, with advanced analytics providing a more accurate indication of where faults are present in the gearbox.
“By integrating oil and vibration data we can provide our customers with a complete and unparalleled understanding of machine and oil health” said Bruce Hall, CEO, Onyx InSight. “As wind farms come under increasing pressure to increase their profitability, it is vital that partners like us enable O&M teams to drive maximum operational efficiencies using the latest technology alongside our engineering expertise. Being an earlier adopter of digitalising oil data – and combining this with vibration data – allows us to revolutionise the way owners and operators run operations by increasing data, accuracy and value.”
Extracting the full value of wind turbine data is critical to the future profitability of the industry. In order to ensure that the full benefits of multiple-data streams are realised, Onyx InSight has created an artificial intelligence platform that seamlessly integrates oil sensing data with other data streams, bringing all data into one place. By bringing data from multiple data sources into one platform, the company provides owners and operators with the information they need to make impactful O&M decisions with confidence.