Life after the OEM maintenance contract
Cost-effective solution to maintain wind turbines' reliability and efficiency
The search for expertise
The owners of 85 wind-powered generators were looking for an alternative to the fixed contract with the OEM that was due to expire shortly. This was an important step to safeguard the reliability of the turbines which provide the power equivalent to the annual consumption of 110,000 homes. In view of the variety of motors, gearboxes, generators and controls within wind turbines, it was essential to select a company that had wide-ranging expertise and the facilities to deliver high-quality repairs.
Paul Richardson, Sulzer’s Middlesbrough Service Center Manager, explains: “Due to the remote location of many of the wind turbines, the on-site workshop facilities can be quite limited, so reliability of components is essential. The best solution is a single-source supplier that can provide a wide variety of services to a very high standard.”
In this case, the operator has a small team of engineers who carry out planned and reactive maintenance work. This team carries spare parts and is able to exchange the parts when necessary, which minimizes the downtime of the turbine.
This advantage is compounded in situations where larger components, such as the generator or the gearboxes are in need of repair. In these cases, a mobile crane will be required, which can incur a considerable expense. If the maintenance team has a replacement component ready to install, then the crane only needs to be erected once to complete the repair.
Without the necessary spare parts, the alternative would be to remove the component, repair it, and bring it back to site, which would require two crane visits, and add considerable expense to the overall cost. Sulzer has considerable expertise in repairing and rewinding generators, especially the multi-megawatt units that are installed in large-scale wind farms.
The Middlesbrough Service Center also has the facilities to carry out a full load test of these generators after the repairs have been completed. This ensures that the refurbished components have proven their ability to perform before they are reinstalled and returned to service.
Since the original repair project was agreed, the Middlesbrough Service Center has expanded the scope of components to be repaired to include fan units, hydraulic pumps, slew gearboxes and variable speed drives. Having proven the capabilities and expertise of the service center, it is set to deliver a comprehensive service and ensure the reliability of the wind turbines is assured for years to come.
Paul continues: “Customers are always welcome to come and see the progress of any repair, we conduct very transparent partnerships. This is in contrast to the experience many have with other companies, and in this case, our customer had experienced some issues with parts being returned late and the long-distance communications were less than ideal.”
Middlesbrough Service Center
Barton Road, Riverside Industrial Estate
TS2 1RX Middlesbrough, Cleveland