Video plant tour: The heart of a wind turbine

The slow and graceful rotation of a wind turbine hides the hard work and huge stresses on the mechanical components and structure. The speed-increasing gearbox handles all the torque in constantly changing conditions. See how they're built.


Flash is required!

When you watch a wind turbine turn gracefully in the distance, here are some things to think about. The nacelle is probably 450 ft. off the ground and the diameter of the blades is around 300 ft. When those blades are turning at 20 to 25 rpm, you can imagine the torque on the shaft. Moreover, the output of one of those turbines is probably at least 1.5 to 2 MW, and may be more. In spite of their delicate appearance, this is heavy-duty machinery.

The two main pieces of equipment inside the nacelle are the speed-increasing gearbox and the generator. The gearbox takes that slow blade rotation and kicks it up to around 1,800 rpm to drive the generator. Since the output is equivalent to a few thousand horsepower, these are no small gearboxes. To make matters worse, given the support structure, weight is a major concern. While not quite at the level of aircraft applications, wind turbines do have to economize as much as practical. This means the mechanical equipment has to function under very difficult conditions without the ability to build in additional safety factors.

Winergy Drive Systems builds specialized gearboxes for wind turbines, and claims world leadership in that industry segment with 50% of the market globally and 60% in the U.S. The company split off from Flender in 2002 and boasts 40,000 units installed worldwide.

This short video takes you on a tour of the Winergy Drive Systems assembly floor, showing these huge units in their final production stages. Once you see the process, you will have a new appreciation for what it takes to harness wind power.


Watch the Winergy plant tour video .

Read Winds of change for power and control .

Read Wind power's growing contribution .


No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.