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.

An improvement of just one ISO code in oil cleanliness can extend the bearing’s “relative life” by 20%. Three code drops can provide a 70% life extension.   

Clean oil from day one maximizes the life of the gearbox components and provides the greatest cost savings if done at the time the turbine is commissioned. New technologies allow wind farm owner/operators to improve oil cleanliness in the wind turbine gearbox starting on the day it is commissioned.   By implementing this reliability-centered maintenance approach from COD, owners can significantly lower maintenance cost and extended equipment life. That can add years of uninterrupted service and significant increases in return on their investment.

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.

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!

“Server virtualization is the masking of server resources, including the number and identity of individual physical servers, processors, and operating systems, from server users. The server administrator uses a software application to divide one physical server into multiple isolated virtual environments.” Source: TechTarget

A wind park typically has several OEM servers such as: Real-Time SCADA Server, Database Server, and Remote Access Server, all of which take up substantial space and require a lot of man power to ensure they run at peak performance. Most wind parks which have servers that have been running since COD are out of warranty (or soon to be), the parts needed to support are becoming harder and harder to find, and they are limited by legacy software restrictions. Often, in the event of failures, support staff are required to reach out to the OEM who in turn install their own proprietary applications costing tens of thousands of dollars.

UpWind brings Josh Crayton on board to help lead and innovate the team’s blade operations and maintenance (O&M) services. Josh brings nine years of wind turbine blade O&M experience. He is the new Business Manager of Blade Services and will be helping wind farm owners extend the life of their assets and improve production through blade upgrades and reliability-centered maintenance for blades.

UpWind Solutions builds their performance engineering team by adding AnneMarie Graves who brings 11 years of experience assessing performance and reliability of wind projects. She is the new Director of Performance Engineering and will be directly involved in helping UpWind analyze their +3 GW fleet of O&M projects in order to reduce cost, increase production, and improve reliability over the lifetime of the asset.

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”?