Page last updated at 10 December 2015 at 15:45
Non-Contact, Dimensional Inspection Systems for Wind Turbine Bearings
RedLux, based in Chandler's Ford, develops ultraprecise, non-contact Coordinate Measuring Machines that generate 3 dimensional data sets with nanometre resolution. RedLux’s metrology systems were originally designed for form measurement in the medical sector, especially orthopaedics, in order to provide fast, reliable, and highly precise measurement data of artificial joints.
The company now plans to develop its core technology to address the wind turbine market sector and has successfully applied for a Green Growth Grant from Eastleigh Borough Council. This very successful scheme is offering grants for green economy businesses to take forward research and development projects and create jobs.
The grant will support the company in developing and designing a Coordinate Measuring Machine capable of conducting form measurements of large bearings, which is a new application for RedLux’s technology.
The renewable energy sector is growing rapidly and new technologies and processes are continuously sought after to make the production in this field more efficient and streamlined. Quality control in the production of components for wind turbines is paramount as the cost of replacement of failed parts is significant and impacts the cost of green energy generation. By measuring wind turbine bearings at point of production faster and in more detail than possible with existing inspection systems, RedLux’s technology will result in lower manufacturing and running costs and increased lifetime for these bearings.
Currently, bearings are first assembled and the generated vibration is tested. If a bearing is found to be ‘noisy’, it has to be disassembled and either reworked or scrapped. Changing a bearing on an offshore wind turbine costs in excess of £200k, because of the requirement for floating cranes. The costs of a bearing change onshore are slightly lower, but still significant, because of often remote locations and the size of the turbines.
RedLux’s new machine allows a 3D assessment of the bearing surface, giving the manufacturer of these bearings the possibility to detect machining errors before the bearing is assembled and thus avoids costly failure detection at a later stage.
Several new positions, located at the company’s head office in Chandlers Ford, have been created and filled to support the design and development work for both the instrument and software. The machine is currently at prototype status but already it becomes evident that RedLux’s system is providing a solution that is both cost effective and of significantly better performance than existing, competitor solutions.
Non-Contact, Dimensional Inspection Non-Contact Measurement 3 Dimensional Data Set of a Measured Component
System for Wind Turbine Bearings