In the renewable energy sector, especially within wind turbine operations, maintaining optimal performance while managing costs and environmental impact presents significant challenges.
Wind turbines are crucial in harnessing renewable energy, yet they face the dual pressures of operational longevity and sustainability. SKF’s innovative approach to remanufacturing wind turbine bearings emerges as a key solution, addressing these industry pain points with cost-effective, sustainable maintenance solutions.
Marcus Jennerholm, SKF Global Industry Lead for Wind Operations and Maintenance, and Jens Lodders, Manager Services and Solutions, highlight the common challenges faced when bearings begin to show signs of failure. Often, the instinct is to replace failing bearings with new ones, but this can lead to various challenges.
They both emphasise the issue of extended waiting times associated with new bearings.
“Some parts have long lead times, no matter where you buy them from, so finding a solution to address this is crucial,” Lodders said.
“Remanufacturing bearings is an effective way to bridge this gap as this can be done more quickly and cheaper,” Jennerholm said.
Beyond addressing the challenge of long lead times, both experts also discuss the significant environmental benefits of SKF’s remanufacturing process.
“If you take a typical bearing that is being remanufactured and compare it to new bearings, you reduce the CO2 impact by 90 per cent,” Jennerholm said.
This reduction in carbon emissions becomes increasingly important with rising carbon taxation, particularly in Europe. Lodders highlights the role of local services in further reducing CO2 emissions and minimising costs through SKF’s global network of remanufacturing centres.
Jennerholm adds that the remanufacturing process requires approximately 10 per cent of the energy needed for manufacturing a new bearing, significantly lowering carbon emissions. Additionally, this sustainable approach extends the service life of bearings and prevents the unnecessary scrapping of components, thus conserving natural resources.
SKF’s remanufacturing process is thorough and precise. It begins with cleaning, degreasing, and disassembling the bearings. Each component undergoes a rigorous inspection, followed by a detailed bearing analysis report.
Bearings that are not beyond repair and have more than 30 per cent of their calculated service life remaining are considered viable for remanufacturing. The restoration process can include polishing, grinding, and component replacement, offering substantial cost savings over new bearings.
Jennerholm highlights SKF’s use of an advanced management system during the remanufacturing process.
“We uniquely mark each asset for full traceability throughout its future life cycle,” he said, underscoring the commitment to stringent quality control and accountability at every stage.
Beyond standard remanufacturing, SKF also provides the option to upgrade bearings to new or higher specifications. This can include mounting sensors, integrating lubrication systems, applying coatings, adding sealing solutions, or other enhancements to meet specific operational requirements.
SKF has established 15 remanufacturing centres, offering comprehensive maintenance capabilities, with their primary focus on assisting customers in reducing costs along the lifecycle of their wind turbines. This global network highlights SKF’s commitment to providing accessible and efficient remanufacturing services across the world.
SKF’s bearing remanufacturing services offer a sustainable and economical solution for the wind energy industry, addressing the challenges of high costs, long lead times, and environmental impact.
By opting for remanufacturing, companies not only benefit from reduced operational costs and enhanced reliability but also contribute significantly to environmental conservation.
To find out more about SKF’s remanufacturing capabilities, visit the website today.