Upwind Blog

UpWind Solutions, Inc., North America’s leading independent full service provider for the wind industry, recently has entered into a strategic relationship with OSIsoft to expand their UpWind Insight™ capabilities services providing comprehensive reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) to extend the life of wind projects, increase turbine performance and uptimes for generation power.

Traditionally, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) focus has been on designing turbines that will last 20 years, perform reliably and produce as the nameplate describes. As turbine reliability increases, maintenance costs and downtime should decrease. However, significant unknowns remain for the turbine life cycle. This means OEMs, owners and independent service providers (ISPs) alike are all watching the installed base closely to learn how to offer better planned and unplanned maintenance solutions. To do so, they rely heavily on data and service innovation for improved production, lower operating expense and extended project life.

A blade maintenance strategy is founded through compiling comprehensive site and blade health data, analysis of the data followed by a budget to enable a proactive program for the foreseeable future. What comes next is adapting an effective strategy of execution to the known issues and react to the unknown.

What is infrastructure reliability and redundancy? And why is it needed at your wind farm?

Infrastructure reliability and redundancy is one of the critical pieces of a project as it is the sites data bearing transport method and yet it is often over looked in the daily operations until it breaks.  Your infrastructure must be reliable to ensure data flow, and it also has to be redundant in the event of a failure within the infrastructure. Without both you may find your project not acquiring all of the needed data for operations. Without having full data acquisition, the site may not have the appropriate data for supplying reports to off-takers, utilities, regional authorities as well as internal financial staff for production sell.

Industrial wind blades were not built to weather a 20 year life without maintenance as they inherently experience fatigue and normal wear and tear ultimately resulting in diminished AEP and increasing repair costs.  By adjusting the approach from reactive to proactive and staying ahead of the fatigue cycle, many of these costs can be avoided and in fact if approached appropriately can extend asset life.  Let’s examine what supports a proactive approach.

Recently I was asked the question, why should owners inspect their wind turbines? It was a straight forward question from a colleague looking for an honest answer. Having been in the wind industry 10+ years the simplicity of the question caught me off guard.  The first thought that came to my mind was; why don’t owners inspect their assets more!

About three years ago we decided to make our brand promise “A Higher Standard of Service™”. It wasn’t because we are arrogant, or believe we are better than others, but purely because we wanted to establish a bar for ourselves and an expectation for our customers. The question is, how do we measure or benchmark for this goal?

We measure customer satisfaction and drive continuous improvement through our quality program and while this is an important exercise, it does not benchmark our service level against the industry. We needed to find another approach, a true benchmark, with an acceptable unbiased method by which to measure it. So, in March this year we commissioned DNV GL to undertake an ‘O&M Capabilities Assessment’ of UpWind in order to gain insight to the critical questions, “how good are we” and “how do we compare to others”?

CIRI's Fire Island Wind Farm, a remote site off the coast of Anchorage, is already exceeding expectations for power production. UpWind Solutions and CIRI have worked together to ensure the turbines are available when the wind is blowing and the community needs the power. Chris Rose, the Exeuctive Director of Renewable Energy Alaska Project, states that "Fire Island is displacing more natural gas than would be used in 4,000 homes over the course of the year." 

What is Reliability-Centered Maintenance?

“A reliability-centered maintenance program includes only those tasks which satisfy the criteria for both applicability and effectiveness. The applicability of a task is determined by the characteristics of the item, and its effectiveness is defined in terms of the consequences the task is designed to prevent.” (Source: Nowlan and Heap, 1978)

Why does it matter?

Let's face it, we probably all ask ourselves this question from time to time. We all recognize that we are fortunate to live in a great country, have a job, a home, clean clothes and good food. For many people around the world, just one of these would be miraculous. Even so, we want to know we matter, that what we do matters, that we make a difference.