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Long service life and short standstill times with HBM measurement technology

Wind power plants are forging full speed ahead

HBM supports highly promising growth markets such as wind energy with state-of-the-art measurement technology. Complete solutions are required to increase the efficiency of wind power plants with HBM measurement technology from sensor to software. Efficient wind power plants require long service lives and short downtime. This depends primarily on the quality and reliable monitoring of the individual components. Furthermore, wind power plants at sea (offshore) and on land (onshore) face different challenges.

Offshore

At sea, components must withstand around 2 billion load cycles over the course of their service life. They need to withstand storms without damage. Maintenance and servicing are complicated and, above all, expensive. Ships required for servicing cost tens of thousands of Euros every day while the stock of replacement parts often has values in excess of six figures. Reliable components and maintenance that can be planned in advance are therefore very important.

Onshore

Suitable areas for wind power plants onshore are limited and approval procedures can take a long time. The energy efficiency of existing wind parks must therefore increase. In a so-called repowering process, older wind wheels are replaced by more powerful wind power plants. Tower sizes are higher, rotor blades larger while the resulting forces and torques also increase.

Optimization of the drive train

Transmissions have so far been one of the main causes of downtime. They are subject to particularly high wear and can fail after just ten years. The trend is therefore towards optimized transmissions, lower gear ratios, and even to gearless drives. The latter leads to a short construction design with just one main bearing. The slowly rotating rotor blades drive the generator directly, meaning the speed remains constant, but the torque that occurs over the entire drive train is then very high. The advantage of missing the transmission is acquired by the use of multipolar generators with permanent magnets, which in turn contain expensive, rare earths – another reason to increase the service life of the plants in order to minimize costs.

From design to operation: A complete solution

The optimization and efficiency of wind power plants depends on the quality of the measurement technology used. HBM offers measurement technology solutions for wind power plants; from design to operation.

Software for optimal design

Developed by HBM, nCodeDesignLife™ software contributes to the optimal design of wind power plants right from the development phase. The software determines the probable service life of critical components. During the test and production phases, HBM force, strain and torque transducers, together with a large number of electrical and optical strain gages, ensure the quality of the components.

The greatest torques

HBM technology makes it possible to record significantly higher torques. Our measurement shafts deliver in excess of 5 MNm for torque acquisition to meet the very high torques produced during wind energy generation. Thanks to joint research with the German National Metrology Institute (PTB), sufficient traceability of these large torques is ensured. In addition, peak accuracy is required to determine the efficiency of generators as per IEC 60034 – another HBM strength.

Measuring forces for greater safety

Force transducers are available from HBM as serial products up to 5 MN, while up to 15 MN can be measured if a build-up system is set up. The SLB series of strain transducers monitor particularly critical components in the wind wheel. The HBM KMR force washers measure the stress state at the screwed ring flange connections within the plant and so contribute to safety.