Turner Group employ around 2,000 loyal and dedicated professionals across both hemispheres. They have a strong history of working in a diverse range of sectors such as aviation, marine and scaffolding to name a few. However they are most commonly associated with the engineering sector.
In 2015 Turner Group turned their attention to the UK’s 2.9 billion pound Wind Power industry. The company’s aim is to work with wind turbine owners, providing them with crucial real time data of their turbines mechanical performance. Thus allowing owners to make crucial decisions on turbine maintenance and servicing in real time.
The Drive For Change
Turner Group have over 105 years of engineering and maintenance experience with engineering teams regularly associated with the installation and repairing of turbine systems. Inspired by their drive to improve customer satisfaction they set out to build a remote monitoring system that allowed their engineering technicians to review the turbine systems performance to proactively foresee a mechanical failure. This system is what they call the M-HAS (Machine Health Assessment System).
If successful the M-HAS would act as a failure prevention tool by monitoring key indicators such as vibration, temperature, oil condition, and mechanical wear. By applying Turner Group’s sophisticated engineering algorithms and multi sensor data, the M-HAS would be able to determine the turbine systems health in real time.
The results from the tests would then be analysed in real time against acceptable performance thresholds set by Turner Group’s engineering analysts. If the checks highlighted any potential concerns an automated trigger would send detailed reports of the turbine’s performance to asset managers and operators via SMS and email. With all data available to download in various formats.
The M-HAS’s goal was to allow turbine and power systems owners to take preemptive actions such as oil changes, gearbox replacements and bearing wear, ahead of potential catastrophic system failures which results in not only repair costs, but a loss of ongoing revenue.
Obstacles To Overcome
The project in its entirety was very ambitious. Turner Group wanted to combine multiple disciplines: electrical engineering, mechanical sensors, engineering algorithms, application development, all working 328 feet above the ground, in some of the most remote areas in the UK.
Turner Group is a remarkably diverse range of companies, they are experts in electrical engineering, but with this project they required an application development partner to work with them, to achieve their huge ambitions.
The Turner Group commissioned Digital Impact, a Glasgow based digital agency to do exactly this. Digital Impact has worked with The Turner Group in the past on a wide range of web development projects such as Turner Access and Turner Hire Drive.
The Turner Group challenged Digital Impact to deliver a solution for transmitting real time data to a cloud based application, all from The Turner Group’s custom built monitoring units that would potentially be installed in thousands of wind turbines across the UK.
Having been handed this challenging and momentous task, we put our best minds to working out just exactly what needed done, and how best to do it. We tackled the four main areas that we believed would streamline the entire process and make it as competent and efficient as possible.
After an initial investigation into a range of different remote connection options, we recommended building a cloud based application that would authenticate and connect individually with The Turner Group’s Monitoring Unit via a 3G internet connection. The unit would then transmit a data stream of statistical and analytical data back to the application.
We format this data into actionable interactive charts and graphs allowing the client to monitor the turbine systems performance remotely.
Management of Wind Farms
The Turner Group needed a system that was scalable to thousands of turbines. The system we built allowed The Turner Group to add clients and give them individual access to view their wind farms.
Logic Based Alarms
A key feature of the newly built system that The Turner Group wanted, was to setup a range of thresholds and logic based alarms. These alarms would trigger an SMS or email to be dispatched immediately, alerting the wind turbine technician of an urgent issue.
To support such a feature we developed a Custom Rule Builder Tool within the application. This allowed The Turner Group team to set thresholds against any sensor or monitoring device that is transmitting data from the turbine. With each alarm setup within the system The Turner Group could set the severity of the alarm and the mode of contact based on a traffic lighting system i.e.
Red Alarm = SMS and automated voice call to senior contact
Amber Alarm = Email sent to The Turner Group analysis for review; client sent PDF report.
Digital Impact and The Turner Group worked together on M-HAS for over 18 months, initially building multiple test systems. In late 2017 the live system was launched. The M-HAS has attracted a huge amount of interest within the Wind Turbine Industry and has featured in multiple industry publications to date.
In just a few months of the live launch The Turner Group now have multiple agreements in place for monitoring several hundred turbines across the UK.