Altering Wind Farm Services Using Private Wireless Networks

As the demand for energy soars, the case when it comes to renewable sources like wind becomes stronger. More companies as well as countries happen to be lessening their reliance on traditional energy sources in order to achieve net zero goals. Consequently, yearly wind energy generation is all set to double between 2022 and 2027, thereby bringing overall worldwide wind capacity to over 1,500 GW.

In order to achieve this, the size as well as number of wind farms, as well as the turbines within them, have to grow along with the workforce. A new report anticipates that more than 574,000 technicians will be needed to keep pace with this kind of progress, with around 43% being new to the sector. Quick re-skilling of the workforce is going to be an uphill task, but companies that make optimal use of operational data and wind power can more easily manage their shift.

It is well to be noted that the digital transformation of operations is going to be a vital part of this. Companies have to get the support of extensive data along with a communications network, delivering pervasive as well as uninterrupted connectivity for their workers and also equipment.

In the extreme environment that’s also harsh in an offshore wind farm, which spans miles beyond the reach of cellular networks, or even on remote rural onshore farms where wind power can sometimes get stronger than the existing network signal, several companies are now shifting to 4G/LTE as well as 5G private wireless.

Private wireless offers wind farms the edge

Private wireless happens to offer a robust as well as dependable way so as to support the connectivity requirements of people, machines, and also various Industrial Internet of Things- IIoT sensors.

Less 4G/LTE as well as 5G radios are needed so as to cover a geographical area that’s broader as compared to the Wi-Fi access points, and they are not vulnerable to interference when it comes to metal structures. 4G/LTE as well as 5G private wireless networks happen to be flexible, not marred by point-to-point connectivity or even the cost of a microwave. They enable the wind farm operators to connect assets and also benefit from predictable services, with the capacity to prioritize resources in order to support the most crucial use cases.

By way of using a private wireless platform that enables companies to help existing technologies will speed up return on investment. By converging the present Wi-Fi networks for IT along with other non-mission-critical services, tracking systems like supervisory control as well as data acquisition, and land mobile radio standards-based communications systems like TETRA and P25, on a single network, companies can go on to reduce maintenance time as well as costs.

Even if the existing Wi-Fi or public cellular 4G as well as 5G connectivity is available, wind farm operators can go on to execute private wireless so as to take advantage of industrial edge abilities, enabling the data to get processed on premises and that too in real time. This will make sure that they maintain data governance at the site and also unlock more compelling sector applications.

Empowering the connected worker while at the same time enhancing operations

By way of having a critical private wireless connectivity in place, companies can safeguard and also empower their workforce as they go ahead with site selection and acquisition activities for construction as well as operation. For instance, the mission-critical push to talk can be increased with data and video, letting workers share more context with colleagues as they go on to work at the top of a turbine, be it on a service vessel or on the ground, whereas offshore teams can communicate with colleagues back to teams onshore by making use of existing microwave links or subsea optical cables. 

By way of using IIoT sensors, teams can have access to environmental data faster on sea conditions and wind speeds, as well as more during site selection, construction, and operations. They can also make use of sensors in order to access and use information so as to protect operations.

With numerous moving parts, failures can be kind of costly when it comes to interruptions to power generation and equipment replacement costs. By connecting turbines to the private wireless network through sensors, teams can have constant feeds of OT data and be alerted when it falls outside of an anticipated range. Then they can go on to execute the predictive maintenance activities in order to resolve issues quickly as well as extend the life of turbines.

Simultaneously, training can be increased, and maintenance activities can be further enhanced by way of several connected worker capabilities, helping companies to more quickly ramp up staffing levels.

For instance, technologies like AI, VR, as well as mixed reality can be made use of to simulate hazardous conditions for training purposes, thereby enabling workers to be better prepared sans being placed at risk. And by making use of QR codes on equipment that workers can scan from their devices, they can execute capabilities that help those workers access VR data overlays, which go on to guide them to areas that need to be focused on.

Using autonomous drones for remote inspection

Once in functional mode, turbines must be inspected on a regular basis so as to ensure there happens to be no damage or missing parts. Each manual inspection needs the turbine to be shut down and equipment in place so that the workers can access the structure.

As wind turbines rise in height and number, this will go on to become more hazardous and time-consuming. By way of using drones connected over a private wireless network, in-person visits are decreased, and teams can go on to access crystal-clear images from a greater number of turbines faster sans a huge disruption to operations. With more data, they can make better decisions about the turbines they need to have access to.

It is well to be noted that the drones can also be used throughout the site surveys and construction. For instance, multiple drone flights making use of cameras, thermal images, and more can help teams develop an absolute view of land topology, sea conditions, and some other aspects of the site so as to have more rapid decision-making in place. Drones can be made use of throughout construction, enabling the teams to share clear video images with offsite inspectors.

Drones that can be operated remotely for one-off flights or scheduled for inspection flights that are regular, go on to offer the greatest advantages. For autonomous functions such as these, drones must be able to return to a charging dock that goes on to safeguard them from the harsh conditions, both onshore as well as offshore.

As energy production elevates across remote areas, wind farms can as well become even bigger targets for attack. Leveraging drone surveillance and connecting CCTV with sensors and object detection capacities, companies can execute perimeter monitoring, with any unauthorized activity pushing alerts to security teams. This will help provide greater protection for on-site workers as well.

Safeguarding the workforce through ruggedized devices

Companies can also go on to safeguard their workforce by helping them with the most appropriate connected devices that are there. They should investigate the usage of smartphone as well as tablet devices that are ruggedized when it comes to industrial use so as to make sure of reliable operation in harsh onshore as well as offshore environments.

There also happen to be devices that go on to offer hands-free communication capacities as well such as helmets with integrated headsets, glasses, wearable remote speaker microphones, and other devices with push-to-talk aesthetics. By way of leveraging on the most appropriate connected devices for the tasks they perform, workers can seamlessly go on to interact with colleagues and the equipment they are working on.

It is indeed clear that when it comes to wind farms, the operators shall take advantage of greater operational efficiency as well as profitability and also ramp up the workforce as they stretch operations, and hence have to be supported by strong and also pervasive private wireless connectivity.

By way of working with a provider that offers a single platform solution with the broadest array of capabilities, they can go on to achieve their objectives more rapidly while at the same time speeding up the return on investment.