reducing wind turbine O&M costs with automated workflows

How wind energy teams can breeze through o&m workflows

When it comes to wind power, we’re real big fans. But, did you know that Operations and Maintenance (O&M) costs in the wind industry are set to rise globally to $17-billion in 2020? This means now is a good time to take a look at how operations and maintenance workflows can be optimized for efficiency.

Whether you’re inspecting wind turbines or other equipment (offshore or on dry land), optimizing your workflows and processes can help you to save time and reduce costs. Let’s take a gander at some examples of how workflow automation can help you to win the war on offshore wind O&M costs!

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

If we had a crystal ball, we’d happily show you all of the forthcoming technical issues your offshore and on land wind farms are going to face. It’s absolutely critical that you utilize every available method of planning ahead, in order to mitigate risk and give yourself a head-start on identifying where potential faults or issues might occur. Not planning ahead is going to cost you and unfortunately, we don’t have the winning future Powerball numbers to help you pay for the growing costs of wind power O&M.

“Unplanned failures can cost the asset owner as much as $30,000 per turbine and up to 7 days worth of lost production per year, in terms of wind farm repair and spare parts,” stated Daniel Liu, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables Principal Analyst

You’re most likely already using wind turbine predictive and preventive maintenance as part of your O&M processes, so you know it heavily relies on the measurement and analysis of data. Yes, sometimes unexpected outages or mechanical failures will occur, but you’re better equipped and prepared to have all of your maintenance and service data in one secure place — easily accessible to technicians. Deloitte states that predictive maintenance increases productivity by 25%, reduces breakdowns by 70%, and lowers maintenance costs by 25%, on average.

With so many moving parts to the process of maintaining a wind farm, any help you can find to make your team’s lives easier would be welcomed. It may take some time to find the right wind turbine operations and maintenance workflows for your teams, but just like the tricky task of swapping out the main parts of a floating wind turbine generator, persistence pays off!

Invest in the future of your team

Part of saving on wind energy O&M costs means taking a look at the inefficient processes that skilled workers are doing as part of O&M procedures and optimizing their time. A recent survey by Accenture revealed that the biggest opportunity to improve O&M performance is in the deployment of digital technologies and enablers, including mobile field-force effectiveness tools.

Siemens Gamesa implemented workflow automation to comply with policies and training requirements for their large-scale field teams. The global energy giant optimized workflows across 18 countries with 2,000+ users — decreasing the number of manual processes, reducing wind turbine inspection costs, and ensuring cross-departmental quality control. Siemens was able to unify the document management process (e.g. storing, distributing, editing, and collecting documents) for technicians conducting operations and maintenance offshore and onshore. They also decreased the time required for wind turbine blade inspection training and onboarding to reap the rewards of productivity as they continue to grow. 

Reduce risk of data or document loss 

We’ve heard that new turbine technology centred on big data will eventually enable turbines to act as “smart” machines, where they’ll have the ability to self-correct — reducing wind turbine maintenance costs. Until that day comes, the accuracy of the data collected that influe

The public-facing side of O&M operations is obvious and apparent, but there’s a lot of admin work that goes on behind the scenes. Warranties, compliance checks, audits, service history, inspections, health and safety checklists, insurance documents, wind turbine maintenance checklist, contracts for subcontractors, accounts and billing information…we’re dizzy just thinking about it all. 

Aside from it being a bit of a pain in the a$$ to sort and file all of those documents, running them back-and-forth in a physical format just isn’t practical. Not to mention, even possible when you have several workers far from the office — at sea or on land.

Workflow automation streamlines document flows in a logical way, helping your teams to work more efficiently, reduce O&M costs, and lead the way to significant economies of scale. With the right process management system in-place, wind companies can continue to scale and evolve — provided there are adequate wind power maintenance and operations workflows in-place to support their teams.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy How Wind O&M Market Is Adapting To The COVID-19 Crisis

Featured Image Credit: Barbara Kelley – Wall Street Journal