Managing Network Devices in Wind Turbine Tower Applications

Managing Network Devices in Wind Turbine Tower Applications

Wind turbine towers are a lot more complicated than they appear at first glance. In addition to generating power, wind turbines also include networked electronics such as servos that can be used to position turbine blades for maximum power generation, sensors to track wind speed and temperature, cameras and other security devices to ensure that the turbine is not tampered with and an assortment of other equipment, used to remotely manage each wind turbine tower.

4g LTE cellular out of band management - wind turbine tower application

In a typical wind farm implementation, servo motors, sensors and security devices in each wind turbine are linked to a network switch in the tower, which is in turn linked to the wind farm’s Ethernet backbone in order to allow remote towers to be easily managed from a central control facility.

Although this arrangement works well when functioning correctly, a simple network problem can often leave turbines unmanaged until the network can be brought back online again. Without a reliable out-of-band communication solution, technicians might have to visit many individual towers in order to reboot or reconfigure devices and bring the network back up again. In addition to wasting time and money, this situation can also result in damage to wind turbines if administrators at the central control facility are unable to slow or stop turbines that are either overheating, or being spun too rapidly by high winds.

A 4G LTE cellular broadband network can provide an economical, out-of-band back-up solution for network communication when wind farm networks crash or die. Cellular broadband lends itself well to the wind farm environment because it eliminates the need to run cables for a back-up hard-wired network, yet provides a reliable out-of-band means to access devices in remote wind turbine towers when the primary network is unavailable.

When a WTI CPM-1600-1-ECA Console Server + PDU Combo equipped with the 4G LTE Cellular Option is installed at the wind turbine site, remote administrators can establish an out-of-band connection via cellular broadband in order to quickly access console port command functions and power reboot capabilities without the hassle and expense of travelling to the remote site to take care of the problem in person. If the wind turbine relies on DC powered sensors and servos, then a WTI RPC Series Remote DC Power Switch and a WTI DSM-40DC-E Serial Console Server with the 4G LTE Cellular Option can be used to access console ports and manage power and reboot switching at the remote site.