Mark Radburnd, a managing partner in Turningpoint, said that the initial part of the contract is to supply, install and configure 120 condition-monitoring systems at the San Juan Mesa wind farm in New Mexico, owned by Edison Mission. “This is the biggest of the farms. The other 12 farms have another 330 turbines, bringing the total number of turbines covered in this contract to 450,” he said.
Turningpoint, through monitoring and analysis, assists in reducing operating and maintenance costs through the early detection of machine mechanical faults and the subsequent introduction of preventative maintenance programmes.
“This becomes increasingly important where damage can incur significant costs to remedy or cause actual substantial loss of revenue for the company relying on the wind turbines. Often these turbines are in inaccessible areas or the turbines are critical components to a business process,” he said.
This initial contract is important for Turningpoint because it is not only an entrée into a company of the size and standing of Edison Mission, but it positions Turningpoint on the world stage as a leader in wind turbine condition monitoring.
“The importance of this initial contract cannot be under-estimated, that is why our business development director, Stephen Donovan, is overseeing this major project.
“Not only do we want to ensure that Edison Mission is 100% satisfied with our monitoring systems, but by working collaboratively we anticipate being able to enhance and extend the project to provide Edison Mission with tools that will help them increase the efficiency of their wind farms.”
As well as having its monitoring system installed on existing farms, Turningpoint is working with different companies to have their system installed at time of manufacture.
“One US-based turbine manufacturer has already included our wind turbine condition monitoring system on more than 500 wind turbines with another 200 to be completed by the end of 2010.
“Mitsubishi, in Japan, is also looking to trial our Turningpoint solution and, if successful, they will include it in their manufacturing programme,” he said.
There are approximately 120,000 turbines installed globally in an estimated 6000 plus wind farms. The market is growing at approximately 20%-25% a year. Europe initially led the deployment, with the United States becoming the largest market for the past few years.
“It is expected that China will become the largest market in the next two years. We have just seen the largest farm in the world completed in Roscoe, Texas, with 627 turbines, at an investment of US$1bn.
“However, you can bet the Chinese will come up with something bigger in the near future.
“The sheer scale is amazing, and if you include the fact that we are looking to change our model and provide more services and value that will also provide us with greater returns, then we could be travelling at jet stream-like pace,” he said.
Turningpoint’s technology was honed by parent company Commtest, whose technology and monitoring services are used in diverse environments such as military installations, gold and coal mines, production and processing plants and now wind farms.
Commtest has a strong global presence in the condition monitoring of industrial equipment through the use of vibration analysis.
“Approximately four years ago Commtest recognised the opportunity of applying its technology to the wind energy sector and established Turningpoint to develop products and services specifically for the wind business.”
Combined, Commtest and Turningpoint have offices in the United States, China, the Middle East and New Zealand and have approximately 57 staff, over 25 of whom are based in Christchurch.
“Our 15-strong development team of architects, software developers, systems engineers and designers are in Christchurch, as are our manufacturing, assembly testing and monitoring team, including two specialised vibration analysts. General administration and management is also here.”
Together Commtest and Turningpoint are world-leading partners in designing and delivering machinery health information systems to enhance business performance.