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A visual representation

Digitally demonstrating wind turbine components

A company develops a new wind turbine component; but without a platform to showcase this, it may be difficult to convince interested parties of its advantages. So how can manufacturers display key turbine parts, many of which are massive or only functional within a working turbine, to an audience? The digital era may present yet another solution.

As the prominence of wind energy grows, so too does the technology used to support it. However, understanding or explaining key components, such as bearings within electric motors is not always easy. Not every decision maker in the industry has the technical expertise of the specialists who research and design complex solutions. Additionally, seeing the interior of wind turbine in operation is almost always difficult, if not infeasible. As a result, a new innovation is taking off: visually demonstrating wind turbines.

Visualizing wind turbine components

The modern wind energy sector is highly competitive and operators require decisive information quickly. Digital models of turbines are displayed on a computer, or even better, on a portable device such as a tablet. The tool digitally demonstrates components working in a wind turbine. This is immensely useful for companies wishing to showcase a new product to potential investors. Decision makers can look at the product they are interested in from any location. The virtual representation should provide organizations with the information they need to decide on if to purchase a product or not.

A platform to showcase hardware

What’s more, this allows OEMs to more clearly demonstrate new components such as hybrid bearings to prospective customers. Reading a list of specifications about bearings may give some people the information they need to make a decision, but this isn’t always the case. Clearly seeing how a product works in operation is an incredibly useful tool and can even be used to train staff.

The complete package?

While virtual models are an incredibly useful tool, there are still limitations. The software does not factor in unexpected parameters, such as extreme weather conditions. These are difficult to recreate. Indeed, these type of apps do not actually simulate turbine operation, meaning that engineers cannot experiment with different combinations of components. However, apps should not be used as the sole basis for making decisions and budgeting – more as a template or guideline. As a medium for simple and clear illustrations, though, these apps are groundbreaking.

A continuously growing trend

Overall, digital solutions that explain turbine functionality are likely to play an increasingly important role for both manufacturers and consumers. The technology grants greater transparency and can be a useful educational resource. SKF has its own software called the SKF Virtual Wind Turbine. The app is free to download and provides a clear platform to demonstrate or learn about the effect of components on the functionality of real wind turbines.

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