Placing Intelligence Where the Wind Meets the Network Edge

The Challenge

Less CO2 Ltd specializes in installing wind turbines for farmers in the U.K. Needless to say, the sites are unlikely to have easy access to roads or core utilities. In fact, Less CO2 often finds that it will be necessary to install a temporary road surface just so that the delivery vehicles and construction cranes will be able to reach the construction site. They also recommend that wind turbines be placed at least 300 meters away from neighboring homes, trees and hedgerows. These turbine locations are not likely to have wired Internet access.

It would certainly be convenient if wind turbines needed nothing but a breeze and a power line to carry their electricity to the grid. But they are complex installations, and they need real time monitoring and management. The rotors, for example, are equipped with pressure inducers that monitor wind speed and direction. This lets the central controller continually adjust the angle at which the blade cuts into the wind. Most of the time this is to ensure maximum efficiency. But when wind speeds are too high, the pitch control system must “furl” the blades, turning them parallel to the wind to protect them from damage.

Additional sensors and systems monitor things like vibration and temperature in key components like hydraulics and the generators, enabling swift responses to system failures and supporting preventative maintenance. All of this information must be available to the control center in real time.

Running wired Internet connections out to the turbine sites would add a great deal of unnecessary expense. Instead, Less CO2 provides network connectivity with B+B SmartWorx cellular routers.

The Solution

B+B SmartWorx cellular routers were used in the turbines to deliver data in XML format to a Rackspace server at 15 minute intervals. Informatica Cloud Services and the Restful API application “listen” to the server location. As data arrives, Informatica Cloud Services transforms it from .XML to a format that is interpretable by Salesforce, which provides the user interface. Cloud Perspective is also able to capture and interpret error conditions. The customer will know when an issue arises, when an engineer is dealing with the issue, and when the issue is resolved. Over time, historical data can be built up and used to calculate preventative maintenance requirements

About the Hardware and Software

With their multiple interfaces, B+B SmartWorx routers can connect LANS, Ethernet devices, I/O RS-232/422/485 and even Wi-Fi. They not only provide connectivity and control for remote devices, they can be configured with custom scripts to support custom functions. Users may develop these with Linux, C, C++ or the Python language, although Linux is recommended. B+B SmartWorx also provides a downloadable library of these scripts and users modules, like our Modbus TCP to Modbus RTU module, which allows Modbus RTU data to flow over TCP/IP networks.

The cellular networks are not proprietary, of course, so the ER75i simplifies VPN tunneling with our SmartCluster VPN server. Smartworx Hub™, our device configuration, diagnostics & management platform, lets users manage and configure any or all of their B+B SmartWorx routers from a single location. It displays your entire device population right on your desktop.ight on your desktop.


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