TÜV SÜD improves proprietary software to analyse defects efficiently
Preventing future defects in wind turbines
Lagging behind in standardisation and digitisation
Despite further reduction of the costs of electricity production, the developers, owners and operators of wind turbines have so far largely missed out on the advantages of standardised and digitised information processing. These primarily concern the evaluation of data obtained from periodic inspections, servicing and maintenance of wind turbines during operation. TÜV SÜD has now further improved its existing proprietary software product, which enables owners and operators to analyse defects efficiently. The software helps stakeholders to remedy existing and prevent future defects in wind turbines. Combined with intelligent service parts planning and servicing, this method contributes to reducing downtime.
Today the cost efficiency of electricity from wind power has improved by 12 per cent compared to four years ago. However, many opportunities for improvement and potential savings are wasted because inspection, servicing and maintenance are not yet efficient enough. Failure to clearly identify defective components during inspection and non-standardised descriptions of defects in databases can result in inefficiencies in servicing and maintenance. This applies not only to the recording of data during periodic inspections, but also to the exchange of information between clients and contractors and data processing. In some instances, for example, defects and the measures taken to remedy them are recorded by hand on paper and entered later into an IT system which does not support systematic analysis.
To counter these deficits, the wind-energy industry has now launched initial standardisation projects. Applying Part 32 of the "Reference Designation System for Power Plants" (RDS-PP), the European technical association for power and heat generation, VBG, has transferred an international designation system to wind turbines. Using this system, individual components are assigned an individual code based on the location of their installation and their function.
Software-based use of standardised descriptions
Clear categorisation and description of defects should be carried out on site with the help of a mobile electronic device (e.g. a tablet computer or mobile phone). TÜV SÜD Industrie Service has developed a proprietary software product for this application. The module is an add-in to the electronic logbook, netDocX, and extends the use of the logbook to wind turbines. The inspectors can enter the component's location of installation in several dimensions and the standard name of the component (e.g. azimuth motor). The software will then assign the correct identification to the component (in this case: MDL 10). In addition to the regular test report (as a PDF file), TÜV SÜD Industrie Service maps all data recorded in the inspection in a single database, which can be automatically processed and analysed. This approach enables maintenance to be started more quickly, and thus minimises downtime.
All actual defects can be presented in a clear and precise manner and analysed according to the inspector's preferences (e.g. by most frequent defects, defect statistics by manufacturer and region). Based on these results, the operators and owners of wind turbines can then prepare statistics and derive forecasts for the entire life cycle of a wind turbine, collected in a single digital file. Standardised overarching recording not only improves the position with regard to data and the data quality, but also facilitates data management with the help of IT systems. It also transparently identifies the areas in which availability may be improved and costs saved: serial mistakes can be identified faster, reminders for correction of defects created and the costs of types of defects quantified. This may impact favourably on insurance conditions.
Overall, the improved administration and coordination will ensure more reliability and budget transparency. TÜV SÜD’s web-based database, netDocX, ensures well-structured retention of all tests.