Root cause analysis (RCAs) of wind turbine components

Root cause analysis of a breakdown or failure of wind turbine components such as blades, bearings or multipliers.


Timeline

2017-2023

Sector

Renewable energy

Scope

Root cause analysis
PDF

BACKGROUND

By performing a root cause analysis of defects in turbine components, which SOLUTE has been carrying out since 2017, the cause of the defect is identified, thus reducing the risk of repeat failures by evaluating different aspects of the machine such as its construction, loads, operability, maintenance or weather conditions the turbine is going to be subjected to.

By performing a SCADA data analysis, material inspections, repairs or testing (destructive as well as non destructive) we are able to identify the cause of the failure of specific components such as blades, bearings or multipliers. This identification contributes to determining if the errors are pervasive or specific and if they can be corrected through the implementation of active measures. Additionally, we are able to determine who must pay the costs derived from the component failure, which could be the manufacturer, maintainer or insurance company.

The aim of this capability is to prevent, as much as possible, repeat failures of components to minimise the operating and maintenance costs of the park by implementing recommended actions to correct the problem.


RESULTS

The aim of this solution is to identify the cause of the component failure and provide a proposal with mitigating measures to eliminate or reduce the effects of these errors and prevent them from occurring in the future as well as identify who is responsible for the costs of repairing the wind turbine.

EXPERIENCE

Since 2017, SOLUTE has been working with customers in the evaluation of the failures of different components such as blades or multipliers. Additionally, the company has acquired extensive know-how in the wind sector, including the physics of wind turbines, its structural behaviour, operation and maintenance, control system, load cases, manufacturing, etc; concepts upon which the root cause analysis capability specific to this sector is based.

By extension, this know-how is applicable to industries with machinery equipped with rotary, metal or composite material components, such as in the paper, automotive or aeronautical industries, where root cause analysis of components, similar to what our engineers apply at wind farms, can be performed.

Taking SCADA data into account, the operational behaviour of the machine as well as the environmental conditions at the time of the failure are evaluated in accordance with standard IEC 61400-1.

METHODOLOGY

The customer is asked for information about the failure in question as well as what conditions were present at the time of the failure such as SCADA data during and after the failure, alarms, inspection and repair reports. With this information, a visit is made to the park or location where the failure occurred to carry out an initial visual analysis, including the taking of photographs and to possibly extract samples using a radial saw, in order to conduct tests (mechanical, using a sweep electron microscope, glass transition, etc.) to evaluate the condition and strength of the different materials.

Also, taking SCADA data into account, the operational behaviour of the machine as well as the environmental conditions at the time of the failure are assessed in accordance with standard IEC 61400-1.

Based on the extensive experience SOLUTE has acquired in the wind energy field regarding the properties of materials, manufacturing methods, wind resource, calculation of loads or operation of the machines, defects in the construction, design or operation can be identified in different parts of the turbine and a report can be drafted listing the root cause of the failure with the aim of minimising its recurrence.

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