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Renewable energy

Engineering to meet the challenges of the wind industry ‑ weight reduction

In partnership with a number of customers James Walker has been looking at three areas where component weight or the number of components required can be reduced.

08 November 2022

With larger turbines being erected in increasingly difficult locations, reducing the weight of components provides benefits in terms of reducing transport costs and saves time by making assembly or maintenance easier. In partnership with a number of customers James Walker has been looking at three areas where component weight or the number of components required can be reduced.

Seal design
The latest variant of the Walkersele X-Gen range, the D10 DL model, offers an integral moulded anti-contamination lip to prevent particulate matter reaching the sealed bearing - being part of the seal profile it avoids the requirement for separate environmental seals, reducing the number of components within the bearing sealing solution and allowing for a smaller housing configuration, saving on both weight and overall costs.

Alternative materials
Our centre of manufacturing excellence for engineered thermoplastics has a long-standing focus on replacing metal components with engineered thermoplastic components and has considerable success across the oil & gas, rail and metallurgical industries. Making identical components in a material that is up to 30% lighter has made significant advances in transport savings, component cost and safety when handling. The elimination of manufacturing processes such as painting and the extended life of engineered thermoplastic components when compared with their metallic counterparts has added to the significant benefits customers are experiencing by making the switch and we are now seeing interest from an increasing number of players in the wind sector.

Reducing component count
If a component can’t be made lighter in weight, perhaps it can be reduced in quantity to give the same overall effect? RotaBolt is a tension measuring and indicating fastener that allows accurate monitoring of bolt design tension on installation and then continues to monitor and indicate the maintenance of that tension over time. By achieving correct bolt tension you can benefit from being able to reduce the number of bolts required within a structure or assembly - this saves assembly and maintenance time as well as reducing fabrication time and the cost of the bolts themselves. Indication of the correct tension being achieved and maintained can be done by touch, visually or by wireless transmission, all methods helping to reduce maintenance time (potentially by up to 75%) over standard checking and tightening practices. Operator safety is also significantly improved.

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Geoff teesdale
Geoff Teasdale Product Manager United Kingdom

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