Keep it lubed; keep it turning
Automatic lubrication of a wind turbine is essential to reduce unplanned downtime, cut maintenance costs, and increase wind farm profitability
Lubricating a wind turbine can be a huge challenge, for a variety of reasons.
Wind turbines are located in areas with consistent wind density, often in extremely demanding conditions. They are required to operate through summer and winter, so can experience temperatures from -50°C to +50°C, while generator bearings can reach 100°C. Onshore wind farms can be located in desert conditions where abrasive sand intrusion is a problem. Offshore wind turbines face high humidity and salt water ingress
As if that’s not enough, wind farms can be located in remote areas. Getting a maintenance engineer out to a wind farm located 60 kilometers offshore is timeconsuming and expensive. And it’s only possible when weather conditions are favorable. Onshore wind turbines can also be located in remote locations that are difficult to access, and of course can be more than 100 meters above ground.
“For all these reasons, it’s critical to select an automatic lubrication system that is customized to the precise conditions, and ensures reliable and efficient lubrication of all a wind turbine’s bearings,” says Charles Hartl, Global Product Marketing Manager Lubrication Equipment Division at Graco. “Graco equipment lubricates the main bearings, blade pitch bearings, yaw bearings, gear tooth flanks and the open gear teeth to reduce downtime and cut technician intervention to an absolute minimum.”
Graco lubrication equipment for wind turbines is designed for remote and hard to reach lube points, where they deliver predetermined lubricant directly to the lubrication point.
“Automatic lubrication leads to multiple benefits,” adds Hartl. “By avoiding under- or over-lubrication, it reduces maintenance time and costs and extends repair intervals. It improves turbine reliability and reduces unplanned downtime, which translates into higher productivity and profitability. Moreover, it reduce the intervention of a technician to manually lubricate dangerous points that are difficult to access.”
In the harsh environment of an offshore wind farm, Graco’s GL-1 High Corrosion Protection (HCP) injectors are invaluable. They provide C5-M (1,440 hours of salt spray environment) corrosion protection as defined by EN ISO 12944 Part 2. Moreover, they offer the same long life as Graco’s proven GL-1 injectors.
Cost benefits are possible too, because the GL-1 HPC injectors are less expensive than all-stainless-steel alternatives of similar pressure and output ranges. Finally, they are available as ready-to-install injector assemblies: from one injector to six injectors on a single manifold.
Graco’s distributor in Latvia, Baltic Wind Solutions, is responsible to maintain and service 26 Neg Micon NM80 wind turbines in a wind farm alongside the Baltic Sea in Ventspils. To ensure efficient lubrication and increase the running time of the turbines, they installed a centralized automatic lubrication system.
The Graco solution consists of a G1 pump with an 8-liter grease reservoir, a 24 VDC power supply and an external low level indicator. The pump only runs when the wind turbine is working. This guarantees that there is no under- or over-lubrication of the wind turbine. The pump and centralized lubrication system are connected to a SCADA monitoring system which allows the operator to manage all the wind turbines in the wind farm.
Despite the harsh outdoor weather conditions which include fluctuating temperatures, varying wind conditions and sea spray, the Graco system has performed reliably and has reduced overall turbine maintenance costs
Founded in 1926, Graco is a world leader in fluid handling systems and components. Graco products move, measure, control, dispense and apply a wide range of fluids and viscous materials used in vehicle lubrication, commercial and industrial settings.