Advances in condition monitoring technologies have revolutionised predictive maintenance, making it smarter, more efficient and more cost-effective for industry. And with the proliferation of industry 4.0, automation and data exchange technology, it’s becoming clear that we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.

In industries like wind power, linking diverse digital information sources into a single platform creates new options for increased efficiency, machinery lifespan and sustainability, reduced downtime, reduced energy use and ultimately, reduced total cost of ownership (TCO).

New remote monitoring technologies can help prevent breakdowns and outages of vital wind energy plant – and conventional generating equipment – while optimising the lifespans of both new and existing plant. This is crucial for reliability as wind power growth accelerates globally and in Australasia, where installed power capacity rose to more than 4800 MW in the last year, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. Global growth rose as the costs of wind power fell to levels on par or below those of fossil and nuclear power generation.

With modular sensor technology in the drivetrain that is specially adapted for low frequencies, condition-related information can be recorded and processed in real time, e.g. by means of vibration measurements. With an “Automated Rolling Bearing Diagnosis” digital service, the operator or maintenance technician can monitor the condition of individual bearings or complete systems from anywhere in the world via an internet connection. He or she can then even receive a clear text notification about the damage that has been analysed and can call on experts for assistance via remote analysis.

Technologies such as Predictive Maintenance 4.0 for Wind Power link existing technology with new digital services to take a big step further into the digitalised production and machinery monitoring of the future.

Predictive Maintenance 4.0 for Wind Power complements a range of new predictive maintenance technologies arriving in Australasia for application across a broad range of industrial technology, including Drivetrain 4.0, which has broad application in helping to ensure the reliability and optimum lifespan of machinery used in both fossil fuel and renewable energy plants and broader industrial applications.

Drivetrain 4.0’s latest innovations include two newly-developed micro services, which focus on optimum machine capacity, longer machine operating times, data-based predictive maintenance, and reduced overall operating costs. The new micro services include the calculation of rolling bearings’ nominal remaining useful life during operation based on real load spectra, and automated rolling bearing diagnostics with the FAG SmartCheck vibration analysis system. Both services connect to the cloud, where the corresponding big data and software solutions are implemented. Software installations on the end devices of customers are not required; an internet browser and a network connection are sufficient.

Article submitted by Ben Kang manager engineer solutions and business development for Schaeffler Australia.