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Siemens Gamesa Is Using Remote Diagnostics to Streamline Offshore Field Service
Brought to you by WBR Insights
Digital technology is helping the field service industry carry out its work in more efficient, streamlined, and safer ways than would have ever been possible before. AI, drone technology, the Internet of Things, and more are changing the way service and maintenance contracts are fulfilled.
When it comes to managing the field service requirements of wind farms, this arena in particular poses unique challenges. Whereas many field service providers only have to navigate urban environments such as industrial estates or commercial parks, those responsible for wind farms often have to access remote locations. Wind farms require vast open expanses of land or offshore locations, which means traveling times to tend to faults and repairs are often significantly longer than with other service situations.
As one of the leading names in renewable energy, Siemens Gamesa understands the service needs of this sector more than most. The company is looking to digital technology to assist with meeting its complex demands.
Thanks to an innovative technology known as vibration diagnostics, over 130 Siemens Gamesa data scientists can remotely monitor the status of over 10,000 connected wind turbines located around the globe. Located in the Danish city of Brande, the Siemens Gamesa Remote Diagnostic Center is tasked with analyzing the enormous quantity of data which flows through its diagnostic servers.
To facilitate this, each Siemens Gamesa wind turbine is fitted with over 300 connected Internet of Things sensors and contains a sophisticated data acquisition system. All gathered data is then securely processed and uploaded to a global Siemens Gamesa database which can be accessed by any authorized personnel, wherever in the world they may be located -from the on-site management team to the scientists in the Danish diagnostic center.
Once they have access to the data, vibration analysts and data scientists can identify even the smallest irregularity which may indicate a component has fallen outside of acceptable parameters. Catching these irregularities as early as possible is crucial to preventing large-scale damage and costly shutdowns.
The human element of this process is of great importance to Siemens Gamesa. While many may question why you would have humans analyzing the data instead of sophisticated artificial intelligence software, Siemens Gamesa understands the unique skills the human touch can bring to data analysis.
"We can draw completely wrong conclusions if we only base our results on the figures," said Advisory Data Scientist for Siemens Gamesa, Niels Lovmand Pedersen. "What matters is expertise and experience - combined with reliable data and analysis."
Using a sophisticated vibration diagnostic platform, Siemens Gamesa data scientists can analyze digital data from the company's wind turbines worldwide. As a digital twin of a wind turbine's drive train, the Pythia(tm) platform allows for enhanced asset management, reduced risk of turbine downtime, and improved spare part forecasting by detecting and predicting turbine faults at a very early stage.
Problems which historically would not have become apparent until well into a wind turbine's life cycle can now be modeled and predicted during the commissioning stages. So sensitive is Siemens Gamesa's remote vibration detection process that it boasts a 99 percent detection hit rate for drive-train damage, such as main bearing damage or gear-tooth cracks - issues which, if left unchecked, can lead to repair costs stretching into hundreds of thousands of Euro.
"Siemens Gamesa has collected historical vibration data since 2004," continues Pedersen. "By combining the years of accumulated domain knowledge at Siemens Gamesa with all the available turbine data in a data-driven approach, Pythia(tm) is now running state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms like neural networks for remote diagnostics - trained and optimized to locate damage indication signatures."
Once a potential issue has been discovered, it's handed off to a smaller team whose role is to deduce the severity of the problem. The team can decide whether it needs further monitoring and analysis or urgent attention. On many occasions, the problem will not cause any serious damage for several months, meaning Siemens Gamesa can gather more data without causing any unnecessary disruption to service.
Once it has been determined that the fault requires attention, a team of engineers can be dispatched to attend. Because of the remote diagnostics, the engineers can arrive on-site with knowledge of the problem and the right parts and tools to fix it. If you think it's frustrating having to drive from a job to a supplier to collect a spare part you didn't realize you needed, try doing it from an offshore windfarm.
While field service providers maintaining offshore sites are faced with unique challenges, Industry 4.0 technology is on hand to assist. Thanks to innovative providers such as Siemens Gamesa, this technology is becoming ever more sophisticated and ubiquitous, and we're likely to see a far greater proportion of the field service role being carried out remotely in the future.
You can hear Siemens Gamesa's Regional CEO for Service in Northern Europe and the Middle East, Grant Walker, speak at Field Service Europe 2019, taking place this December at the NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.