Interview

Taking Wind Turbine Maintenance to Cloud

With hosted software and the remote monitoring services, SKF will supply the expertise, tools, and training necessary to set up a complete monitoring program anywhere in the world.

Lokesh Saxena, VP – Industrial Business & Services,
SKF India Ltd

With its century of experience and strong hold across 40 industries, SKF has an advanced understanding of how mechanisms and industrial processes are interconnected, which helps them offer customised solutions to each industry. In an interview with Subhajit Roy, Lokesh Saxena, VP – Industrial Business & Services, SKF India Ltd gives an overview of the company’s offerings for the wind energy sector. Excerpts:

How do you look at the opportunities in Indian wind power market?
The wind market is a very futuristic industry. The market is looking for better availability, lower cost of energy generation and highly technology advanced products. Additionally, there is a clear focus from the government also on this sector to boost productivity and higher power generation. In view of this, all levers are now being pushed to achieve the vision of 60 GW energy generation by 2022.

At SKF, we’re geared to support the industry with our local capabilities, backed by over 100 years of SKF knowledge which will ensure world-class products and solutions for the wind industry locally.

Which new technologies are you planning to launch in the Indian market in the coming times?
At SKF, our focus is on optimising the performance of the rotating parts of any machinery. For the wind industry, it translates into improving the reliability of main shaft bearings and gear box bearings. All SKF products and solutions are designed and developed to ensure that the performance of the products of our customers is the best.

Our focus is on bringing the SKF global capabilities to the wind industry segment in India with appropriate products for the Indian markets. With a clear focus on segment needs, our products are designed and developed to suit the local market. Our complete range of bearings, seals, lubrication systems, maintenance products and allied services for the wind industry are a resultant of the same.

Specifically in 2017, we have launched two products namely SRB wind and SKF Multilog IMx-8 to optimise turbine performance.

SRB wind will be the new SKF standard for self-aligning main shaft arrangements in the wind turbine industry – a cost-competitive spherical roller bearing range (240-series), with enhanced performance and robustness in wind turbines against catalogue equivalent size. Most competitors do not have a wind specific solution for SRB main shaft applications. They still offer standard SRB as main bearings, in a rather old design with fixed middle flange in combination with a two piece cage.

SKF Multilog IMx-8: SKF Multilog IMx-8 provides a complete system for early fault detection. It improves the reliability, availability and performance of the rotating equipment in the wind turbine. This compact device offers eight analogue and two digital channels, with connectivity to mobile devices as well as laptops for easy configuration and monitoring. Machine intelligence from IMx-8 data will help customers to avoid unplanned downtime and schedule maintenance proactively, prolonging machine availability and minimising maintenance and repair costs. IMx-8 integrates easily with SKF Cloud for storing and sharing data, enabling SKF Remote Diagnostic Services for expert reporting and recommendations. The IMx-8 is DIN rail mounted, and can be housed in an IP65 cabinet to provide additional protection in demanding industrial environments.

SKF has developed an app-based turbine maintenance support. Would you like to introduce this solution in the Indian market?
The app-based turbine maintenance support is possible with our product IMx-8. Once installed at a turbine, the report can be seen by the customer via an app. The reports can then be sent to our RDC (Remote Diagnostic Centre) which will help our customers to access and trace the functionalities of remote machines to prevent downtime in an effective and frequent manner. SKF’s Remote Monitoring Service makes it possible for any wind turbine farm with Internet access to implement a world-class PdM (predictive maintenance) program for periodic or continuous monitoring of critical machinery. This SKF solution is ideal for plants with limited staff trained in predictive maintenance techniques, operations with sites located remotely from a central facility, and original equipment manufacturers that desire to provide a value-added service to their customers. With hosted software and the remote monitoring services, SKF will supply the expertise, tools, and training necessary to set up a complete monitoring program anywhere in the world.

Is Indian wind power sector ready to adopt such cloud-based solutions?
Yes, we believe that the Indian wind industry market is a technologically progressive market. There are many solutions that they’re adopting to keep abreast with the global trends and this is why the sector is very confident of a good future. SKF is keeping pace with this growth and our solutions that are tailored for the wind industry will only strengthen this progress. Specifically focussing on cloud-based monitoring, it is the need of the hour to ensure higher uptime and predict maintenance needs better. This is the aim of our remote monitoring capability. Globally many such wind farms are remotely monitored by SKF and in India, a major wind farm in India has deployed this and we’re awaiting the results.

What is your strategy to expand activities in India for the wind segment?
India is one of the fastest growing market, and with government’s focus on “clean energy” and manufacturing, it is expected to grow with a double digit in the coming years.

With our clear focus to tap the growing market and cater to the global players, we are regularly customising and launching products appropriate for the market and as per industry requirement. Our two recently launched products at Windergy 2017, is a step in this direction. We will continue to expand our portfolio with the changing times.

At SKF, we have the complete capability right from specification, design, development, manufacturing, installation and remanufacturing of the products at the end of their useful life. This takes care of the complete life cycle of a product.

Our Global Technical Centre- India (GTCI) at Bengaluru is our R&D arm focused at working for the Indian market. The segment need is defined by our product engineering team here In India that works closely with GTCI to bring these products for the markets. Our manufacturing footprint in India consists of six factories of which Ahmedabad factory manufactures bearings for the wind industry, customised machined seals are manufactured across India and lubrication systems come from Bengaluru. SKF Solution Factories are a global network of factories catering to complex maintenance needs of our customers which take care of remanufacturing of mid- and large-size bearings of wind industry. RDC is our remote monitoring centre that monitors the health of wind farms.

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