It sees what we can’t

It sees what we can’t


Wind energy: Inspection and monitoring with artificial intelligence. The experts at GP JOULE SERVICE ENGINEERING can detect even the smallest deviations in the status of their wind turbines – which makes it possible to diagnose damage or even failures at an early stage, and to initiate countermeasures. Artificial intelligence has a growing role to play in supporting this process.

Wind turbines are masterpieces of technology, requiring a finely balanced interaction of rotor, transmission and generator, along with powerful mechanics and complex electronics – and they are constantly subjected to enormous forces from the wind. It is crucial that works managers are always aware of a wind turbine’s status, to ensure that it reliably achieves the highest-possible yields over its years of operation. And that means not only understanding the current situation, but also looking to the future: is there an impending risk of component failure in a few weeks, months or even years, if appropriate preventative steps are not promptly taken?

GP JOULE SERVICE ENGINEERING provides support for all these considerations and many other tasks. The experts from GP JOULE act as an inspection and monitoring office as well as a consultancy engineering service provider, creating comprehensive technical analyses, performing inspections, and strengthening operational risk management. In these functions they are supported by plenty of experience and the constantly expanding integration of artificial intelligence, explains Co-Managing Director Roman Wolff. “AI can help us identify discrepancies at an early stage, for example in transmission endoscopy images which can indicate pending failures or losses in power. This means we minimise downtime, reduce repair costs and increase operational safety across the entire service life of the system.”

Customers also benefit from the expert knowledge and experience contributed by engineering service provider eta DYNAMICS. GP JOULE took over this specialist in preventing and diagnosing damage to wind turbines last summer. The company has become well-known in the industry for conducting SCADA data analyses as well as, in particular, its expertise in condition monitoring and testing, for instance using endoscopy.

Damage avoidance in action

So what does intelligent controlling actually mean in practice? Here’s an example: in a wind turbine, condition monitoring sensors identify anomalies in the powertrain. During analysis of these, the error is localised to the rotor blade control. Now the on-site servicing technician has a sense of the situation. They are able to diagnose a problem with the pitch control of a rotor blade; the defect is remedied; and the system can continue running without problems.

Why is early error detection so important? First, it’s important to understand that the strong forces exerted on the rotor at the top of a wind turbine affect the whole tower and all its components. If the defect described above went undetected, these forces would be misdirected onto the machine housing and supporting structure, and would ultimately lead to damage – damage which is not visible at first, but which leads to impaired operating conditions and even a shortened service life.

Proactive monitoring from GP JOULE SERVICE ENGINEERING improves the performance and durability of the entire system, enabling cost savings and raising the yield potential.