30. November 2015

Wind Turbines - Design, plug, play

The use of connectors is reducing costs for wind power plant assembly, installation and maintenance. The HARTING Technology Group has developed tailored concepts and products for the wind industry.

A multitude of different components and sub-systems are integrated into wind power plants. Power supply, data communication and control signal transmission are designed for the specific application. Before being shipped from the manufacturing plant to the wind park site, most wind turbine components have been monitored and tested by the manufacturer. Then, at the site, the nacelle, tower and switching station are connected to one another and the electrical connections are made. After the complete wind power plant has been tested, it is ready for operation.

Hard-wiring

In the past, hard-wiring was commonly used to connect the most important subsystems and components, although this approach has numerous disadvantages. This wiring usually runs through conduits with the on-site electrical installation being inefficient and expensive. This method considerably obstructs testing and error correction. Further, the system’s final assembly in the field, where it is not always possible to avoid mistakes in the hard-wiring, is just as difficult. These problems actually multiply during the installation in the tower, which includes the turbine controller, data communication system, internal lighting and external navigation warning lights, as well as any power and control lines for an elevator. The costs can be substantial. The direct labour costs for the hard-wiring are approximately matched when the system is dismantled for shipping. Often mistakes can only be corrected by separating individual cables from the termination points in order to allow the problem to be localized.

 

The situation at the site when the system is set up is similar. In the worst case, wiring mistakes can cause components to be damaged when the system starts operation. Particularly complex problems additionally require the consultation of engineers and technicians, which entails additional costs and delays.

Current development s in cabling

"Design for Manufacturing" provides an expedient solution by considering the installation as a part of the manufacturing process. In this case, the developers favour cables assembled with connectors in order to simplify the assembly and dismantling. Modular connector systems that allow hybrid (multi-functional) connections to be made. This makes it possible to manufacture made-to-function connectors that can hold glass fibre, Ethernet, coaxial, power and even compressed air lines, as

well as many other special connection forms. Such cables can be equipped very quickly, and automatic testing reliably prevents wiring errors. If errors are detected, the cable wires can simply be stripped and reconnected. The result is a pre-wired, tested and assembled cable that connects

the important parts of a wind power plant to one another. The figures show the differences between

hard-wiring and a cable equipped with connectors. This example includes a wire fan-out at the cable’s connector end, which is typical for terminals on a control board. The utilization of individual connectors at the fan-out with corresponding counterparts at the subassemblies or components would also be possible.

Cost-benefit ratio in Design for Manufacturing

The use of connector-cable systems offers a number of advantages:

• More efficient (thanks to standardization) planning, design and assembly processes

• Reduced downtime for maintenance and repairs

• Faster dismantlement for shipping

• Reduced wiring costs and shorter commissioning times in the field

• Fewer personnel needed during the onsite installation

• Standardized cables and connectors reduce the spare parts supply required

• Cost reduction of approximately 45 % in the overall wiring concept

• Lower warranty costs

• Simpler changes for upgrades, expansions, etc. at the site.

• Greater customer satisfaction

• No rigid conduits are needed

• Less cable braid at the control board ("clean" design)