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Videoscope Inspection of Bearings for Wind Power Generators


Wind power generation is an alternative energy to fossil fuels with a low environmental burden. It became popular in the late twentieth century, primarily in Europe and the United States. In the new millennium, wind power generation has rapidly grown, especially in China, and has spread all over the world. It has various benefits, including: it uses an inexhaustible natural energy source, it emits almost no carbon dioxide, and it requires lower construction cost and shorter construction period when compared with other types of power plants. In addition, unlike solar power generation, wind power generation has the advantage that it is capable of generating electrical power regardless of day or night. Thus, future extensive installation is expected. 

On the other hand, it has disadvantages such as irregular generation capacity due to changing winds or smaller capacity. To avoid downtime due to breakdown and/or accident, inspection/maintenance of each component must be emphasized.

Required Expansion of Visual Inspection

A wind power generator contains a number of gears as well as bearings to support them in a gearbox to transfer wind power to the dynamo. This dynamo is housed in the nacelle which turns to face the wind direction. The shaft, which transfers the revolution of the blades to the dynamo, may be subjected to a load as much as 100 tons under certain conditions. A gearbox, which is connected to the shaft, contains a number of speed change gears, and many bearings are deployed to support such gears.

Bearings are essential components which support against the rotary force while allowing rotation. Any failure of a bearing could cause a chain reaction damage to other components resulting in the inoperability of the wind turbine. Videoscope inspection is conducted as a non-destructive inspection of areas beyond eyeshot, such as the defects of rollers within bearings and adjacent components such as gears.

In case any failure occurs, prompt identification of the cause and the extent of its impact may allow minimizing the repair cost and period of the repair. For that purpose, a videoscope is a vital inspection tool which facilitates visual check.

Wind turbines use many bearings which are larger in size than those for common equipment. Despite this larger size, the inner space between the rollers of a bearing is quite tight. Thus, accessing the target point with a videoscope requires the correctly sized equipment as well as experience and skill. Once inside the small access point, there is a relatively large area to inspect. Sufficient lighting and orientation to the inspection area by articulating the camera around the inspection area are required. Further, the liquid proof feature is essential as inspections are conducted in an oily environment with lubricant. Industrial videoscopes from Olympus meet these needs with brightness, size, maneuverability, and resilience. This is why Olympus videoscopes have been widely accepted in the industry.

Visual Inspection of Inner Area of a Gearbox
Image - inspecting inner area of a gearbox

Olympus Industrial Videoscope IPLEX Series, Suitable for Wind Power Generation

For the inspection of bearings used in wind power generators, scope types of 4.0 to 6.0 mm in diameter and 2 m in length are commonly used. Thanks to the excellent functions listed below, industrial videoscopes from Olympus are commonly used in the inspection of wind power generators all over the world:

  • Battery-powered: Cordless feature facilitates higher work efficiency even in the tight space inside a nacelle
  • Reduced size and weight: Excellent portability allows hand carrying even to elevated sites
  • Dust/drip proof: Suitable for inspections in dusty, wet, and oily conditions
  • Interchangeable optical adapters: Various optical adapters are available to suit intended inspections
  • The articulation to facilitate efficient inspection of target: Lens aiming is properly and rapidly controllable using the remote controller on the handle
  • Durable insertion head of scope: Application of a tungsten braid provides toughness to endure complicated insertions
  • WiDER feature: Enhance the dark areas often difficult to view due to reflective surfaces causing attenuation of the light
Climbing a Tower with a Videoscope Slung over Shoulder
Handy Videoscope

Highly portable IPLEX RX

Compact Palm-sized Videoscope
Reliable Weather Proof Body

IPLEX UltraLite featuring light weight design and weather proof body

InHelp Inspection Assist Software for Reliable Inspection Records

During a videoscope inspection, many pictures are captured to attach to reports. Since all captured pictures are similar in general, confusion may result unless brief notes are added one by one. These notes are not easy to take when cramped into a nacelle or perched on a gearbox. In such situations, the inspection assist software, InHelp is useful. When an inspection is conducted with the function of InHelp, captured pictures are sorted in folders which identify the location of where the picture was taken, as well as inspection result and/or stylized comments are added to pictures. In the case where a report has to be prepared after inspection, the use of InHelp Viewer allows a rapid report to be created despite a large number of pictures.

Equipment for Inspection other than Visual

In addition to industrial videoscopes, Olympus also manufactures and distributes Ultrasonic Flaw Detectors, Ultrasonic Thickness Gages, and XRF and XRD Analyzers, which are frequently used for inspection of wind power generators. You can use ultrasonic flaw detectors for inspection of internal defects of blade and other components. You can also use battery driven XRF analyzer (X5000) to determine type, size and quantity of metal contained in the extracted oil sample accurately at site without sending the sample to a laboratory. Thus, health monitoring of gearboxes is possible on site. For instance, if an increase of a certain metal is observed by X5000, the location where the metal is used will be immediately checked with a videoscope to enable a timely judgment.

Industrial videoscopes as well as inspection equipment from Olympus are used in the inspection of wind power generation facilities all over the world. For details of each product, please contact Olympus for your wind power inspection solution needs.

Olympus IMS

Az InHelp egy vizsgálati adatkezelő és riportáló szoftver az ipari videoendoszkópokkal, amely minden szempontból egyszerűbbé teszi a helyi vizsgálatokat. Ez nagymértékben javítja a munka hatékonyságát a tárolt képek kezelésével és a vizsgálati riportok létrehozásával.
Csúcskategóriás ipari videoszkóp rendszer, amely egyesíti magában a hordozhatóságot és a széleskörű alkalmazást, a könnyű használhatóságot és a tartósságot. A sokoldalúság a képek kiváló minőségű vizsgálatától a lekérési műveletig olyan előnyökkel jár, amelyek felülmúlják eddigi tapasztalatait.
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