kk-electronic and B&R in Retrofit Cooperation

Danish Wind power controller specialist teams up with BR to breathe new life into aging turbines

As announced at Europe's premier wind energy event of 2013 – the EWEA exhibition in Vienna, Austria – kk-electronic and B&R are collaborating to develop retrofit solutions for wind turbines. By equipping existing turbines with state-of-the-art B&R X20 control electronics and advanced software packages from kk-electronic, this cost-effective alternative to repowering promises to extend their productive life, significantly reduce downtime and, quite simply, make them more profitable for longer.

Costly downtime demands action

When a wind turbine fails post-warranty, research has shown that 42% of problems can be traced to component failure, while another 21% can be attributed to the failure of control systems that were unable to endure a harsh environment for such extended periods of time. This downtime is further compounded by the increasing difficulty of obtaining replacement components for outdated systems. With aging turbines producing below capacity and becoming unjustifiably costly to maintain, it quickly becomes clear that something must be done.

This is precisely the challenge that kk-electronic and B&R set out to solve. As an alternative to the costly repowering approach, which involves replacing entire turbines, the two specialists instead explored the possibility of retrofitting the control system. "With this step, we're focused on the requirements of our customers and the industry," says Tonni Birk Sørensen, Senior Vice President of kk-electronic.

After all, the advantages of repowering rely on new turbines being built taller and larger, parameters which are frequently restricted by site permits and resistance from neighboring populations. Even in cases where a wind farm is repowered, existing turbines are often dismantled and redeployed to emerging markets, where the problems with downtime and availability of replacement parts continue to demand a solution.

Cost-effective, flexible and convenient

By combining kk-electronic's decades of experience as a key player in the wind power industry with B&R's proven expertise in the field of automation, the two companies have come up with a solution that drastically improves the availability and productivity of existing wind turbines. It does so by retrofitting the control electronics while leaving the mechanical design intact, which means minimal downtime for implementation and nearly immediate ROI.

kk-electronic provides controller design and architecture, safety strategy and system integration. Together with advanced PLC equipment from B&R, the result is a cost-effective solution that can easily be adapted to any wind turbine design. "The B&R X20 system used in this solution is known for its versatility," says Peter Gucher, General Manager of B&R, "and it has proven its reliability over significant periods of time in the field under some of the harshest operating conditions on the planet." From a controller standpoint, the retrofit solution is conveniently "plug-and-play", while I/O communication is customized for each respective turbine design and configuration.

B&R company profile

B&R is the world's largest and most successful private company in the area of automation equipment manufacturing. The motto "Perfection in Automation" has provided the foundation for the company since B&R was founded in 1979. Today, B&R employs 2,400 employees worldwide and has an exceptional global presence with 168 sales offices in 68 countries. As a global leader in industrial automation, B&R combines state-of-the-art technology with advanced engineering to provide customers in virtually every industry with complete solutions for machine and process automation, motion control, HMI and integrated safety technology. With industrial fieldbus communication standards like POWERLINK and openSAFETY as well as the powerful Automation Studio software development environment, B&R is constantly redefining the future of automation engineering.

B&R Industrial Automation, Inc. North America, based in Atlanta, GA, has been working closely with its customers since 1987. Since then, B&R North America has continuously grown as a sales and support organization through both direct sales offices and B&R's unique Automation Partner distribution network. Today, B&R North America has a network of more than 20 offices throughout the USA and Canada and is there for its customers locally.

For more information, please visit www.br-automation.com.

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