Offshore Wind Power Installations: Save Costs with Condition Monitoring 

April 9, 2024

Offshore Wind Power Installations: Save Costs with Condition Monitoring

Reliably monitor the condition of wind turbine rotor blades, rotor blade bearings and bolted connections with Weidmüller BLADEcontrol® and TwinCap®

Damage to wind turbines can quickly become expensive – this is true for onshore turbines but particularly critical for turbines installed offshore. Onshore wind farms are usually relatively easy to reach for repairs, but on the high seas expensive ship or helicopter deployments are often necessary for maintenance and repair activities. This becomes even more expensive when an unforeseen damage occurs that requires a fast response. To prevent unexpected defects, Weidmüller, a renowned electronics and connection technology company, offers solutions for the remote monitoring of rotor blades and bolted connections. 

Operators and service providers are constantly striving to continuously improve the cost efficiency and safety of wind turbines. They are faced with the challenge of meeting rising demands for profitability: modern and future-proof turbines need to be increasingly cost-effective and ever more reliable. As a solution provider and specialist in Smart Industrial Connectivity, Weidmüller responds to these needs from the wind industry with tailored products, solutions and services.

The international technology company offers individual components as well as complete packages for the individual requirements of its customers in the wind energy sector. As part of the Weidmüller Group, Weidmüller Monitoring systems GmbH, which has its headquarters in Dresden, specialises in the vibration-based condition monitoring of rotor blades, as it has for the past 20 years. 

“The demand for technologies that reliably identify anomalies on critical and expensive components, such as rotor blades, has increased noticeably”, explains Hans Schlingmann, Vice President Wind Solutions at Weidmüller, and adds: “And that’s hardly surprising, as the wind energy sector is one of the fastest-growing energy sources for power generation worldwide.” The number of wind turbine installations has been continuously increasing for years. But even the most modern turbines are not immune from damage.

Sensors and cloud solutions hand in hand

Offshore Wind Power Installations: Save Costs with Condition Monitoring 
The BLADEcontrol® WebVis makes important information about the condition of the rotor blades available at any time

Weidmüller’s digitalisation solutions support a range of industries, including the wind industry. To detect damage before it becomes problematic, Weidmüller provides solutions ranging from sensors to cloud-based software. The company uses its extensive experience in Industrial IoT to offer software applications for data collection, storage, analysis, evaluation and visualisation. The processed data is then used to generate important added value. This is essential, particularly when it comes to maintaining and continuing to optimise the operation of wind turbines.   

Rotor blade monitoring with BLADEcontrol®

Offshore Wind Power Installations: Save Costs with Condition Monitoring 
BLADEcontrol® is an innovative condition monitoring system (CMS)

BLADEcontrol®, which was developed and launched in 2004 by Weidmüller experts, is an innovative condition monitoring system (CMS). It detects even the smallest anomalies on rotor blades and their structure. BLADEcontrol® permanently monitors rotor blades for changes and detects the formation of damage on the blades.

Furthermore, BLADEcontrol® reliably detects even minor damage to rotor blades, such as damage to the blade tips caused by lightning, cracks of the trailing edge, spar web separation, delamination faults or blade bearing damage. This allows service technicians to take action early on, to prevent more extensive damage to the blade structure or even the loss of the rotor blade. All of this provides genuine added value, as specifically planned repair operations are generally much cheaper than ad-hoc measures. 

Sudden damage, particularly to offshore wind turbines, are a major economic risk for operators. In a worst-case scenario, they can lead to extended downtime of the entire turbine, including yield losses, as repair activities on the high seas involve high costs and considerable time and effort. 

TwinCap® detects damage to bolted connections

Offshore Wind Power Installations: Save Costs with Condition Monitoring 
The TwinCap® remote maintenance system reliably detects signs of wear, such as the crack of a screw nut

Beside the rotor blades, rotor blade bearings and the bolts and nuts installed there, are amongst the most stressed components of a wind turbine. They are exposed to dynamic forces which can result in cracks, damage and breakages. The Weidmüller condition monitoring system allows these anomalies and deviations in bolted connections to be reliably detected at an early stage. The Weidmüller TwinCap® sensors detect signs of wear, such as a crack in a bolt nut. The monitoring system, which is certified by the TÜV SÜD (German Technical Inspectorate), also ensures the safe shut-down of the wind turbine when damage occurs, if it is integrated in the turbine’s safety circuit. 

“Our TwinCap® sensors are extremely robust and resistant to environmental influences such as vibrations, temperature fluctuations, humidity and salty sea air”, says Hans Schlingmann and adds: “This makes them ideal for offshore turbines.” The sensors fulfil protection class IP68: They are dust-tight and waterproof.

Up to 80 TwinCap® sensors can be flexibly connected in series without any issues. This series connection considerably reduces the wiring activities. They are fixed in place by magnets, so they can even be installed and removed without tools. An LED integrated in the sensor allows a damaged nut to be quickly identified. 

The Weidmüller condition monitoring solutions enable a reduction in unplanned downtimes as well as the safe and efficient operation of turbines. In addition, Weidmüller LED systems provide ready-to-install solutions for both general lighting and emergency lighting in the tower and nacelle. Customised solutions, such as individually assembled housing solutions and electrical cabinet components, round out the product line supplied by the electrical engineering and connection technology company for the wind industry.


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