Oiling The Gearbox: A Tiny but Significant Move
energycioinsights

Oiling The Gearbox: A Tiny but Significant Move

By Energy CIO Insights | Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The maintenance of a wind turbine is a challenge due to its size and design. To keep the turbine in check, oiling is carried out as lubrication helps the gearbox to handle the harsh climatic conditions.

FREMONT, CA: A well-oiled machine works more efficiently than a brand new one is a saying known to all, which holds true in case of wind turbines. The wind turbines are dependable and efficient as the quality and health of its components. With a highlight on the turbine’s main gearbox, its function is to modify the speed of the wings for the turbine’s generator by converting high-torque rotations into a stealthy one.

Due to steep variations in the temperature and harsh climatic conditions, the gearboxes are challenged in forms like wind speed, vibration, direction, and moisture. To protect gearboxes from succumbing to the rough winds, it is necessary to keep it oiled and continue to oil it regularly. This feature not only reduces the friction caused by corrosion of the metal but also keeps the components clean. With oiling being a critical part of the smooth running of wind farms, selecting the correct oil suitable for that location and operating conditions is critical. 

Technologies have been developed to determine the type of lubricant that is required to keep the windmills’ gearboxes well oiled. These technologies carry out in-depth tests to formulate an ideal lubricant, which can increase the efficiency of the turbine operation and maintenance (O&M), and reduce downtime.

The Three Factors:

The essential feature that all wind-farm owners or operators need to be aware of is the lookout for lubricant. The quality of the lubricant and its quality not only maintain but also reinforce the stealthy movement of the wind turbines. The three qualities to consider when choosing gearbox oil are:

1.  Execution:

The environments that the wind turbines function in are much worse than the industrial equipment. Hence, lubricants need to be carefully selected or designed to perform with time. By cutting costs and saving on short-term costs, the whole wind turbine will become vulnerable when it is subject to harsh conditions. The ideal gearbox oil provides protection against wear characteristics, enhanced anti-foam, repels water, and holds its integrity with viscosity.

2.  Durability:

Even though modern oils lubricate the machine well for up to a decade, top-treating of oils is carried out to enhance the longevity of the oil. Practices like adding depletive additives to the gearbox oil are one way in which the wind turbine maintenance crews try to stop the degradation and pull out the oil life. The oil’s longevity is directly related to the oil’s quality, which is degrading due to the addition of the compounds. The main concern is the short term solution to extend oil life will result in a long-time performance of the gearbox.

3.  Customer Assistance:

The support team from the manufacturers should provide maintenance, which is as good as the quality of the lubricant. Since the field is unique and involves multiple disciplines, the suppliers need to hire a professional who has the skill and knowledge to conduct operational checks and maintenance. 

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