Remote Access to Wind Turbines Enables Us to Simultaneously Maintain an Increased Number of Them
Wind Energy Solutions (WES) is based in Holland. Wind turbines built by this company stand today on islands in Indonesia, in the far reaches of Canada, and on Caribbean islands. Thanks to Ewon routers and Internet links, WES remains in constant contact with its wind turbines so it can provide immediate help in case of problems.
Frank Hoogers, managing director of WES: "Our wind turbines are located at distant sites. Of course, we always use local installation companies, but we also have to support these companies.
Especially right after a wind turbine has been installed; we maintain frequent contact with the control system in the turbine from our site in Opmeer. We equip 90% of our wind turbines with an Ewon router, which is connected directly to the turbine control system. In the outward direction, the router makes contact via a fixed cable connection or via GSM with GPRS."
Event and data analysis
The WES company primarily retrieves the history of alarms and events from the system. "We can log all sorts of data about the operation of the wind turbine and then upload it. We can also display this data in graphic form and use this to analyse a logged series of events.
This information is very important as an aid to support the local user. If the wind turbine has just been put into service, we can use the analyses to carry out remote fine tuning. Sometimes you have to readjust the settings, and we can do this ourselves from here over a very wide range. We can also update the software in the IPC and the inverters of the wind turbine from here.
The local installer can also upload data directly using the Ewon router, and so can the end user (the electricity company). However, every access is protected by a password, and we distinguish different types of users, so they don’t all have the same privileges."
Ewon perfect compatibility
The Ewon 2101 router used by WES is an industrial modem router and a member of a large family of routers. An important feature of this router is that it has several modems, which enables it to support conventional dialup connections such as PSTN, ISDN, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, and 3G/UMTS. Connections of this sort are initiated by an administrator or an employee of the maintenance department. However, the modem can also independently take the initiative to send a message via GPRS.
The router also has various ports for local Ethernet, local serial or MPI/Profibus networks and Modbus RTU. This wide variety of options is important. There aren’t many competitive industrial routers that can handle the combination of Ethernet and a serial, Modbus RTU or Profibus network. With its ability to let users access « old » and « new » controllers at the same time, the router is also a choice in situations where different types of control interfaces are used, which occurs in a lot of companies.
- Constant contact with turbines
- Graphic data displays enable events analysis
- Easier software updating
Another advantage is that the customer is directly prepared for the future. A customer who has an existing Profibus controller and switches to Ethernet or Profinet can continue to use the same modem. An attractive supplementary advantage of the Ewon router is that it can communicate with all major brands of PLCs and IPCs.
"Actually, this is all possible thanks to the advent of the Internet. That also applies to the success of our company. Ten years ago, none of this would have been possible. Without the Internet, I would never have sold so many wind turbines, and without the Internet I wouldn’t be able to support them."