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Overall vibration values

for reliable wind turbines


Energy 2.0

Dr. Edwin Becker ,

PRFTECHNIK Condition Monitoring

PRFTECHNIK Condition Monitoring GmbH 85737 Ismaning eMail:

A member of the PRFTECHNIK Group
Overall vibration values for reliable wind turbines
The new VDI 3834 guideline closes a gap - less vibration is better

Condition-based maintenance on wind

turbines not only involves mainte-
nance, but also encompasses servicing,
inspection, measurement and evalua-
tion of the condition of the unit. The
current condition can be evaluated on
the basis of machine-specific overall
vibration values. Until now, overall vi-
bration values had not been defined
for wind turbines. In fact, ISO 10816-3
explicitly excludes wind power plants.
The new VDI 3834 closes this gap
shown in Sheet 1: Vibration values for
wind turbines up to 3 MW.

Figure 1: Typical drive train concept and some measuring locations on a wind turbine

Wind power is an industry undergoing surement of functional and operating pa- Information and experience regarding
turbulent growth, both with regard to its rameters and overall vibration values. the possible faults and damage occu-
volume and its energy generation capaci- That knowledge is required for the proper ring in the individual modules during
ty. System vendors have had little oppor- functioning and long-term operation of operation and their economical impact.
tunity to test the wind turbines as their rotating machinery. Fault diagnosis is the
Knowledge of operation-related and
power output has grown, and this has had determination of damage conditions on
machine-related vibration influences,
a negative impact on system availability. machinery and machine components.
the diagnosis procedures that can be
Particularly because of the frequent occur- The use of CMS has made it clear that
applied, and the diagnosis conditions
rence of gearbox damage in 2002/2003, wind turbines are highly complex ma-
that need to be adhered to and their
system insurers introduced a so-called chines for which the overall vibration
revision clause and cancelled almost all values must be systematically determined
old contracts. The revision clause stipu- and made available. The following points VDI 3834 was released in March 2009
lates that all roller bearings in the drive had to be taken into consideration in and takes into account the special require-
train must be replaced after 5 years or creating the new guideline: ments of wind turbines. The guideline is
40,000 operating hours at the latest, un- the first of its kind and is available as
The functional and structural design of
less a suitable Condition Monitoring Sys- Sheet 1 for wind turbines with gears up to
wind turbines and their components.
tem (CMS) has been installed. These 3 MW.
types of CMS can be used for function The interaction between the individual
diagnosis and/or for fault diagnosis. machine train components (modules)
Function diagnosis refers to the mea- being tested.

Figure 2: Guide values: Permissible evaluation velocities Figure 3: Permissible evaluation accelerations

2 Energy 2.0 July 2009 |

Measurement technology nents and assigns overall vibration values monitor the general vibration condition
to the most important of these. In this and, increasingly, detailed monitoring
and characteristic values
way, component-specific vibrations can be uses frequency-based or order-based char-
Piezoelectric accelerometers can be classified and wind turbines and their acteristic trending values.
used to measure both low frequency vi- components showing unfavorable behav-
brations beginning with 0.1 Hz and high ior with respect to their vibrations can be
frequency vibrations up to 6 kHz, as de- identified. The VDI 3834 is based on a
Assessing the vibration level
fined by VDI 3834. In chapters 2 and 3 of statistical analysis of vibration measure- and reducing vibrations
the VDI 3834, clear specifications are ment results on more than 450 wind Based on the overall vibration values, it
given for the installation location of these turbines and defines threshold values in is now possible to assess the vibration
types of accelerometers. Acceptance mea- terms of vibration velocity in mm/s and levels of wind turbines and to compare
surements should be made in the follow- vibration acceleration in m/s for the these. After all, the experience made dur-
ing typical measurement directions: radial drive train components (generator, gear ing service is that less vibration means a

Figure 4: Detecting generator faults early on. Machine damage Figure 5: Reducing vibrations. Alignment with alignment
can result in vibration increases. targets reduces generator vibrations.

vertical, radial horizontal and axial. A and main bearing) and for the nacelle/ longer machine life must also apply to
minimum load of 20 % is required. Be- tower. The threshold values were defined wind turbines. The early detection and
cause of the natural fluctuations in wind as component-specific frequency bands. reduction of elevated vibration levels
load, the VDI 3834 specifies longer mea- The VDI 3834 also gives recommenda- therefore extends wind turbine service
surement times ranging from 1 to 10 tions for warning and alarm thresholds. life.
minutes and even requires a root mean Figure 2 shows the acceptable levels for
square to obtain stable and meaningful overall vibration velocity and figure 3
vibration values for slowly rotating com- shows them for overall acceleration. Identifying corrective measures
ponents. In Level 1 monitoring, we differentiate The required measures can be identified
between the remote monitoring of these by means of a condition diagnosis. Diag-
Characteristic values for drive overall vibration values and the remote nosis specialists use amplitude spectra,
monitoring of characteristic diagnosis val- envelope spectra, time signals and/or cep-
train components ues. But these methods are not new. In stra to detect unusual vibration signals, to
The VDI guideline divides the drive machines and industrial plants, the vibra- identify dominant excitations and to eval-
train components into their main compo- tion values of the ISO-10816-3 are used to uate frequency specific trends using the

Figure 6: Field balancing reduces nacelle

and main bearing vibrations.

Energy 2.0 July 2009 | 3

water fall display function [2]. A few Outlook
examples of how the availability of sys-
These examples alone illustrate that the
tems can be increased using vibration
targeted use of measuring and testing
results are presented below:
techniques make it possible to reduce
Detecting additional vibrations resul- vibrations in already installed wind tur-
ting from a generator fault: Figure 4 bines. The VDI 3834 enables manufactur-
shows the trend of a wind turbine ers and operators to assess the vibration
generator in which an increase in vibra- condition of wind turbines and reduce
tion amplitudes indicated an impen- them by implementing specific corrective
ding machine fault several weeks in measures in order to reach state of the art
advance. After the generator was repla- threshold levels.
ced, the overall vibration values retur-
ned to normal. It should be pointed out
that such vibration changes only arise if
the affected drive train component is [1] VDI 3834 Sheet 1: Measurement
dominant in the frequency band. Over- and evaluation of the mechanical vibra-
all vibration values do not rise when tion of wind energy turbines and their
the damage is not dominant in the components - Onshore wind energy tur-
Dr. Edwin Becker
amplitude spectra. bines with gears
Head of Service & Diagnostic Center
[2], issue 12 PRFTECHNIK Condition Monitoring
Identifying deviations in the machine
[3] E.Becker, O.Holstein: Determining T +49/89/99616-340
alignment: During telemonitoring of a
alignment targets for drive trains in wind F +49/89/99616-341
wind turbine, elevated overall vibration
turbines. Erneuerbare Energien 10/2007
values were detected. The frequency
analyses showed additional vibrations
due to poor machine alignment. The
machine was then aligned according to
siutable alignment targets. [3] The
overall vibration values became signifi-
cantly lower, as seen in figure 5.
Reducing rotor blade imbalances: Ro-
tor blade imbalances lead to rotational
excitations and e.g. increased loads on
bearings and components. While they
are of very low frequency in wind
turbines, they can result in vibration
amplitudes of 100 mm/s. Measure-
ments must be taken with linear vibra-
tion sensors and longer measuring
times, as prescribed by VDI 3834. Figu-
re 6 shows the effect of field balancing
on vibrations, applying the recommen-
ded G16 balancing grade for rotor bla-
des. [2] In this particular case, the
additional vibrations, caused by imba-
lance, were actually reduced to the
point where the difference was noticea-
ble in the nacelle.

4 Energy 2.0 July 2009 |