For wind farm owners, wind turbine maintenance is a major, unavoidable aspect of ensuring safety and efficiency when harnessing wind power. Proper maintenance helps to prevent unexpected breakdowns and accidents that could cause lengthy downtime.
One major aspect of maintenance includes performing end-of-warranty inspections. These are helpful and necessary for recognizing signs of distress on the turbine, such as premature wear or cracks that need to be repaired before the damage is done. Technicians will also examine wind turbines for balance and alignment issues, gears and gearbox problems and adequate lubrication. Wind turbine maintenance is important, especially when working with remote wind farms that are difficult to get to quickly in a time of emergency.
Planned maintenance helps to prevent minor issues from becoming large problems that cause downtime and lost revenue. Wind turbines are valuable pieces of machinery and regular lubrication is essential to keep these machines and all of their moving parts working well. Proper lubrication of the gearbox can even prolong the lifespan of the wind turbine, especially when it’s in an area of severe weather that may otherwise corrode and damage the mechanisms. Using good quality oil is important, too, to reduce the number of oil and filter changes the machine will need throughout its lifetime of use. The generator and blades will require adequate lubrication to run smoothly, as well. The entire system, including the wiring, coolant systems, seals, brake pads, bearings, blades, tower and electrical connections should all be inspected at least once a year.
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Proper alignment is an important part of wind turbine maintenance (MD&A’s Topless Alignment service is among the most reputable in the industry). Shaft alignment is critical for several reasons. Because wind turbines are located several hundred feet in the air, they must be prepared to withstand severe weather from a tall height. Proper, stable alignment is also necessary because of the high speeds required by the generator to convert wind power into energy. Good alignment prevents unwanted radial and axial forces from exerting force upon the machine’s bearings and gears, causing damage or wasting energy.
Preventative maintenance is the first line of defense from mechanical failure and loss of revenue for wind farm owners and operators. It’s similar to caring for your personal vehicle. Sure, your car may seem to be running just fine. It’s getting you from point A to point B, doing its job, but you can’t be sure what’s going on beneath the hood, or in the undercarriage. Likewise, your wind turbines may seem to be running as well as they normally do, but if you fail to schedule regular oil and filter changes, or have technicians examine them for wear and tear or loose bolts, you could be in for a rude awakening.
While there is planned maintenance, there is also unplanned wind turbine maintenance, too. This is where expertise and efficiency come in particularly handy from your technicians. If something goes awry, such as a loose bearing coming off, or an issue in the gearbox, you need a team of fast-acting experts to assess the situation and solve the problem quickly and safely.