Before we go too far, let’s get our terms right. I-Scoop has a great overview of the differences between Digitisation, Digitalisation, and Digital Transformation.
Digitisation: “Digitization is the transformation from analog to digital or digital representation of a physical item…” I-Scoop
Digitalisation: “Digitalization most often refers to enabling, improving and/or transforming business operations and/or business functions and/or business models/processes and/or activities, by leveraging digital technologies and a broader use and context of digitized data, turned into actionable, knowledge, with a specific benefit in mind.” I-SCoop
The article goes on to state clearly,
“There is no digitalization and no digital transformation without digitization (of paper and processes).”
Digitisation and Digitalisation of Gearboxes
Gearboxes and drivetrains in general are interesting because the critical data around their operation and status, today, is typically not known. They are what we call “data barren.” While speed, temperature, and other conditions are usually tracked, critical operating conditions of the mechanical components are unknown; such as torque, oil or grease quality, wear debris, etc. But many OEMs are attempting to jump to Digital Transformation before assessing if the “right” data is currently available in their system.
Machine learning, artificial intelligence, physics-based approaches are all amazing digitalisation technologies that are now revolutionizing many industries, including wind. But in systems where the necessary information isn’t available, these technologies tend to fall short of expectations. Typically the only data collected from gearboxes and the mechanical components of drivetrains is operational conditions (speed, temp, etc.). More common now are CM systems, like vibration, are added to detect faults within the system. These work well for detecting imbalances within a system and preventative action taken early on in the PF curve. But other detections are usually too late in the PF to take true preventative action, damage has already been done.
Truly preventative action, such as fixing a shaft imbalance, needs to take place before damage is realized. Within fluid lubricated systems, the condition and state of the oil is of critical importance. A significant number of drivetrain failures’ root cause are because of lubrication problems. In most cases, especially within wind, oil samples are not able to be taken at often enough to track and trend properly. Therefore, it is critical that drivetrain lubricating fluids are monitored and trended real time to detect events impacting oil quality that could case failure conditions.
Poseidon Systems has developed the most advanced oil digitisation sensor suite, a 4th generation wear debris sensor and a 7th generation oil quality sensor, capable of monitoring the oil quality and health state of the machine.
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An overview of the sensors and use cases for each are captured below below.
Oil & Machine Health Digitisation Overview
Limitations of Offline Oil Analysis – Co-Author with EDF Renewables