Insights

Using Mobile Technology to Help Manage Condition Based Maintenance Data at the Wind Turbine

Taken from a Dingo presentation at the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition

By: Colin Donnelly

Maintenance tasks performed on a wind turbine can be broken down into scheduled (preventative and predictive) or corrective (condition based or proactive) maintenance. Most corrective maintenance starts with the analysis performed on the millions of condition monitoring data points that are collected each and every second from online systems and field inspections.

Traditional CMMS or ERP systems like SAP® are excellent at managing the scheduled maintenance tasks but are not well suited to the dynamic workflow involved in condition based tasks.  They often lack the tools to manage and document the interactive condition based maintenance workflow. This is particularly true when it comes to giving access to key maintenance information at the turbine itself. 

Online Monitoring

Online systems (SCADA, CMS) produce large volumes of real time data which is typically fed through sophisticatedalgorithms to determine if the data point is within acceptable limits.  Corrective actions are then fed into a CMMS or ERP system as maintenance tasks.

Even the most experienced technician requires access to additional resources/expertise while performing work.  This information is difficult to obtain while up-tower and can lead to longer downtime.

Field Inspection

Field inspections (borescopes, visual, filter, breather) used to help determine the health of equipment is  usually captured by hand and later stored electronically; however, this is not always the case and often isn’t communicated back to a centralized analysis point quickly, or at all.  Subsequently, any required maintenance actions rarely make it into the ERP/SAP system for completion.

Typical ERP systems provide technicians with little more than a one-line task description.  They lack the detail necessary to perform the full workflow of inspection, troubleshooting, repair and documentation of the defect.

This data disconnect, and the inadequacies of an ERP system are causing a breakdown between the maintenance workflow and data collection / feedback loop.

So, what does an effective condition based maintenance workflow and feedback process look like?

·         It has a system to capture and leverage the experience and knowledge of the entire workforce through a readily accessible, knowledge-based management system.

·         It has tools to allow real-time collaboration with experts for complex defect resolution.

·         It provides tools that simplify field inspection data capture.

·         It provides access to historical maintenance and condition data.

·         It provides the capability to determine the effectiveness of maintenance work, not simply task completion.

This type of effective workflow / feedback process can be achieved through mobile technology.  Mobile devices today provide the necessary tools that can help deliver this capability. If coupled with applications that strive to achieve the goals above they can make it much easier to capture and deliver maintenance information in real-time at the turbine and better manage condition based maintenance tasks. Some potential key aspects of a mobile solution:

·         Data collection directly into the device at the turbine

·         Capture visual inspection data through the camera or video

·         Use of bar code or RFID reader to accurately identify components

·         Utilizing GPS capability to deliver location-specific events or advice

·         Video calls to collaborate with experts in real time

·         Context rich documents available on the device

ipad-turbine.pngMany organizations today are pursuing ways of integrating mobile devices into their existing processes to streamline data communications and provide easy access to real-time expertise not previously available in remote locations.  Mobile devices can help solve the breakdown between the maintenance workflow and data collection / feedback loop.