As the wind industry expands, and aging turbines near the end of their warranty, the need for reliable maintenance and support becomes crucial. SKF, a leading provider of engineering solutions and bearing technologies, is well-equipped to meet those demands. Two SKF specialists, Marcus Jennerholm and Jens Lodders, provide valuable insights into SKF’s capabilities in offering comprehensive solutions for the wind industry.
Marcus Jennerholm, based in Sweden, serves as the SKF Global Industry Lead for Wind Operations and Maintenance. He emphasises the challenges that wind turbines encounter on a daily basis.
“Unlike other industries that operate in controlled conditions, wind turbines are subject to the unpredictable forces of the natural elements,” says Jennerholm.
“Factors such as temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, turbulence, and wind shear are all uncontrolled variables that exert tremendous stress on the turbine components such as the bearings.”
“This unpredictability makes it challenging to determine the optimal timing for maintenance, as the effects of these various factors are not always fully understood.”
Jens Lodders, Manager Services and Solutions based in Western Australia, highlights that “many of those turbines are coming out of their warranty phase, therefore require product and service support.”
Playing a crucial role in enabling operational efficiency and addressing these issues, SKF’s capabilities in condition monitoring are significant. Lodders emphasises, “Continuous monitoring and analysis of turbine performance allow us to detect potential issues before they escalate, enabling proactive maintenance and minimising downtime.”
Lodders discusses another highlight of SKF’s services in the form of their remanufacturing capabilities, offering reliable and high-quality bearings that can fulfill their customers’ needs.
“SKF has established 15 remanufacturing centres, offering comprehensive maintenance capabilities, with their primary focus on assisting customers in reducing costs along the lifecycle of their wind turbines,” he says.
“We provide engineering solutions, spare parts, failure analysis, improved lubrication, bearing upgrades and condition monitoring to optimise customer operations and maximise their return on investment,” Lodders adds.
Jennerholm highlights the benefits of SKF’s remanufactured bearings, stating that they are “an effective way to bridge the gap of long lead times associated with new bearings.”
He continues, “They enable the smooth operation and extended lifespan of wind turbines, reducing downtime and associated costs. Thorough failure analysis allows us to identify weak points in the turbine’s design or running conditions, enhancing overall reliability and performance.”
They draw attention to the positive environmental impacts of SKF’s remanufacturing services, showcasing the company’s dedication to environmental sustainability.
“Remanufacturing bearings, specifically for the gearbox, generator, and main bearing, not only lead to cost reduction and quicker access to spare parts but also offer a substantial CO2 benefit,” says Jennerholm.
“When comparing a remanufactured bearing to a new one, the CO2 impact is reduced significantly by 90 per cent.”
SKF’s capabilities in the wind industry are further exemplified by the impressive SKF Sven Wingquist Test Centre located in Schweinfurt, Germany.
“This unique facility is the only one in the world capable of testing large bearings with diameters typical of wind turbines under realistic conditions,” says Lodders.
“Backed by 29 service and training centres, along with 16 Remote Diagnostics Centres monitoring millions of bearings, SKF is making a significant difference in the wind industry.”
SKF also provides comprehensive knowledge on their website for the wind industry, offering cutting-edge tools and resources to stay at the forefront of wind energy. Among their innovative offerings is the SKF Virtual Turbine app, a 3D experience that provides a unique glimpse inside wind turbines. This app empowers wind turbine operators and original equipment manufacturers to explore SKF solutions, gaining crucial knowledge into their capabilities and features.
Additionally, the company offers an informative wind blog, where valuable insights, industry trends, and practical knowledge on wind turbine operations are shared.
With a wide range of capabilities, including condition monitoring, remanufacturing, and innovative technologies, SKF enables customers to reduce costs, enhance operational efficiency, and prolong the lifespan of their wind turbines. Jennerholm concludes, “SKF’s dedication to industry needs positions us as a leading catalyst for progress in the wind energy sector, fostering a greener and more sustainable future.”
You can learn more about how SKF is supporting wind turbine manufacturers and operators by visiting their website at https://skf.li/energytodaypublicationarticle1.