SKF’s Windlub centralised lubrication system for wind turbines is supporting Italy’s leading wind energy operator roll out a fully automated lubrication programme on more than 100 wind turbines across seven countries.
Renewable energy giant, ERG is Italy’s leading producer of wind energy and is among the top ten wind energy operators in Europe. With a current installed capacity of 1814MW across seven countries, the company achieved wind-based energy production totalling in excess of 3613GWh in 2017, equivalent to a cut in CO2 emissions of around three million tonnes in a single year.
A recent survey demonstrated that 80 per cent of lubrication points installed are still manually lubricated. Lubrication is a vital maintenance task in any industry but for wind turbine operators it can be particularly onerous and expensive, especially if manual methods are employed across remote and difficult-to-access sites. For ERG these tasks were becoming more demanding of its resources and the company faced daily issues related to standard maintenance activities.
Some two years ago, SKF was carrying out a multiplatform approach on ERG turbines, when the opportunity arose to introduce the company to the concept of planned servicing. As well as existing SKF lubrication systems, new automated lubrication systems were also included – specifically SKF’s Windlub centralised, automated lubrication upgrade system, which is purpose designed for the wind power generation sector.
Subsequent presentations and specially organised training days for ERG technicians and engineers cemented the relationship and work began in three specific areas: service carried out on existing generator lubrication pump units; installation of automatic lubrication systems for those generators not already fitted with such systems; and finally, the installation of automatic lubrication systems for turbine pitch bearings.
SKF provided all necessary tools for the maintenance system upgrade, such as manual and battery-operated filling pumps, assortment case boxes, fittings and pipes, the refurbishment of existing pump units and delivery of special after-market kits, each designed in accordance with the original OEM’s specifications. Over time, it is expected that automated lubrication systems will be rolled out across ERG’s huge wind turbine estate to optimise bearing service life, increase turbine uptime and reduce manpower costs – all of which will combine to help make the company’s wind farms more profitable in the long term. Also, thanks to the expertise of SKF’s Solution Factory in Italy, ERG can be assured of the highest levels of installation service standards.
Automatic lubrication systems deliver the exact quantity of the appropriate lubricant to the right place at the right time. Customised systems, as well as complete kits, are available for pitch, yaw, main and generator bearings, as well as open gear applications. Automatic lubrication systems provide a quick return on investment by increasing turbine system availability, extending maintenance intervals and preventing failures of major components. Additional savings can be achieved through proper lubricant handling and consumption, thanks to the inherent precision in pump control unit settings.
Learn more about SKF’s Windlub centralised lubrication system at www.skf.co.uk.