/ Exo Group, LLC Mon Jan 06 17:06:22 2020
Wind turbine inspection
transmission line maintenance
Are You Making These Mistakes in Your BOP Maintenance Strategy?

When it comes to preventative maintenance, most renewable energy companies place heavy emphasis on the turbine generators. They follow very consistent protocols and industry standards for these assets, allocating the (often limited) leftover time and resources to collection and transmission systems. 

Yes, proactive wind turbine maintenance plays an absolutely vital role in protecting plant output. However, maintaining a stable balance of plant (BOP) is also critical in sustaining the overall health, reliability, and profitability of the facility as well. 

Do You Have a Balance of Plant Strategy that Emphasizes Transmission Inspection? 

A balance of plant strategy goes beyond the turbines to focus on the supporting infrastructure that delivers power to market. Many renewable energy companies overlook the importance of implementing robust BOP preventative maintenance within their facility. However, even the sites that do focus on BOP make a few critical missteps in the process that can ultimately hinder the function, safety, and performance of the wind farm as a whole. Beyond not having a proactive maintenance standard, some typical balance of plant mistakes include the following.

Lack of Experience

One common mistake wind farm operators make in their BOP strategy is failing to understand the significance of truly comprehensive and regular inspections of their overhead transmission line. Many just assume that these static systems were designed and built to last 50 years, therefore they should perform as such with little intervention. This simply is not the case and as a result, operators find themselves constantly reacting to unplanned and unexpected issues that cause outages and costly downtime of their asset.

Not Prioritizing Detailed Assessments

Because of those assumptions mentioned above, many operators don’t appreciate the value of conducting full structural evaluations on their transmission assets. In many cases, a routine driving or walking patrol performed annual is the extent of the program.  Unfortunately, this level of inspection is insufficient in assessing the current health status of these assets. These cost effective tactics can (and often do) miss out on potentially critical issues. For example, a single missing cotter pin on a conductor suspension assembly can cause a line failure that takes an entire site offline.  Likewise, a defective weld or hidden corrosion behind a coating system could lead to catastrophic failure of the line.

Weak Data Management 

Even renewable firms that do have a thorough assessment process in place often fail to effectively manage the data gathered throughout the process. Storing and managing aggregated digital intelligence is crucial to maintaining a consistent balance of plant system. If your organization does not have the right system and strategy in place to store, manage, and analyze data sets, you could miss out on pertinent trends and potential future outages. 

Thinking You Have to Do It Alone

Perhaps the biggest mistake that renewable energy companies make with their BOP strategy is thinking that they have to manage the entire plant inspection process on their own. Fortunately, that’s not the case. A qualified and professional third-party provider that specializes in asset management inspections can coordinate and oversee your facility’s entire BOP strategy for you.

An experienced partner will have the time, training, and expertise needed to sufficiently manage the initiative, beginning with establishing a health status on all of your existing assets. Once they’ve outlined a comprehensive baseline, your chosen partner will create a customized inspection maintenance plan on how to move forward. Finally, your vendor will also have the resources needed to manage all of your vital digital intelligence as well, ensuring you have access to the real-time data required to run your facility safely and productively at all times.

Does your renewable energy facility need help with its BOP strategy? Contact Exo to hear more about our comprehensive health assessments. Or, schedule a demo of our online data capture platform today.

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