Looking after gearboxes in the hostile environment of wind turbines

Gearboxes for wind turbines are challenging both to repair and maintain. This is primarily due to the fact wind turbines are often located in remote settings and the gearbox is situated in an elevated position. Wind turbines typically operate in extreme conditions meaning getting to internal components can be difficult.

However, as challenging as they are to maintain, like virtually every other piece of machinery, it is vital that the gearboxes of wind turbines are regularly inspected and oil changes are frequently made in order to protect components from becoming worn and not operating at their optimum.

Whether it’s Kimera or Heynau, Sirem or Spaggiari, gearboxes – in producing a small rotational force – known as torque – are essential parts of a hugely diverse range of industries. This is because the torque industrial gearboxes produce, create a much greater rotational force.

As we explored in an earlier blog, industrial gearboxes are essential components of the wind power industry. It is therefore of paramount importance that, despite their awkward position, mechanical maintenance is maintained on the gearboxes used in wind turbines.

So how can wind turbine operators ensure the industrial gearboxes used to power these tall and challengingly-positioned structures, are kept in good condition?

Use a quality gearbox oil

As Wind Power Engineering recommends, a good first step to take in overall wind turbine gearbox maintenance is to use:

“A high-performance synthetic oil which can extend oil lifespan which helps minimise operator perform maintenance.”

Whilst not so long ago gearbox oil for wind turbines had a general expected life service of approximately 18 months, today’s advanced performance synthetic gearbox oils have been proven to last more up to five years.

Routine oil analysis

Wind Power Engineering also recommends wind turbine operators conduct a regular oil analysis program. Such in-depth analysis will help operators identify any issues that could be affecting a turbine’s reliability. The analysis will detect any degradation within the lubricant which could be resulting in component wear.

Wind ‘Power Engineering advices that in order for operators to truly get the most out of a lubrication program they should take a “holistic look at operational maintenance.”

From Zurrer worm gears to Sumitomo gearboxes, all gearboxes for industrial use come with lubricant challenges. Even many smaller gearboxes can be used in hostile environments, which can prove detrimental to their functionality.

It is therefore important that gearboxes of all industries have the necessary inspections and services carried out, particularly in the wind power industry, which, by its very nature, machinery and industrial parts are exposed to the harshest of climates and environments.

YB Components stock thousands of industrial parts which are available for immediate dispatch, including gearboxes and geared motors.

Our specialist team also offers repair services. Simply send us your gearbox and we’ll give it a full inspection and report, free of charge.  For gearbox requirements get in touch with YB Components.