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Case Study: Benefits of an Integrated Approach to Major Component Exchanges

Case History

Mortenson is challenging the wind industry to consider a new major component approach designed to decrease turbine down time, reduce equipment costs and eliminate budget uncertainty.  Our “integrated” approach employs a proactive strategy which creates significant efficiencies over a traditional “run-to-failure” approach. 

In order to fully understand the cost implications of an “integrated” versus “run-to-failure” approach to major component exchanges, we have created a hypothetical case study to fully analyze both approaches.

A “run-to-failure” approach meaning assets are deliberately allowed to operate until they fail or break, at which point reactive maintenance is performed.  Conversely, an “integrated” approach meaning a strategic approach with key partners to develop the most cost-effective and proactive solution to major component exchanges. 

The below chart summarizes each approach to complete major component exchanges:

summary table

Considering both approaches we have developed a hypothetical scenario with the following parameters:

  • This particular fleet consists of four (4) projects: two (2) projects in Texas, one (1) in Kansas, and one (1) in Oklahoma. 
  • Together, these projects will need ten (10) major component exchanges throughout the year based on indications from predictive monitoring.
    • Four (4) major component exchanges in Kansas
    • Three (3) major component exchanges in Oklahoma
    • One (1) major component exchanges in North Texas
    • Two (2) major component exchanges in West Texas

We will analyze both approaches and look at the cost implications to both:

Run-to-failure Base Assumptions

  • Assumes each gearbox will be replaced upon failure throughout the year and no two gearboxes will fail at the same time meaning separate mobilizations will be required for each failure.
  • Pricing includes crane, labor and tooling to replace major component.  Cost for replacement parts are not included.
  • Pricing is based on historical pricing during the summer months however pricing will fluctuate depending on location of the project, time of year and availability of resources.
  • Mobilization costs will depend on distance the crane will be mobilizing from – pricing below assumes a centralized crane facility.
  • Crane rental costs assumes the crane is rented for 3-days for each major component exchange.
  • Wind/weather delay costs have not been accounted for.
wind fleet - run to failure


Efficient campaign approach illustration

Integrated Base Assumptions

  • A strategic approach with vendors to develop an efficient plan to replace all ten (10) gearboxes ahead of catastrophic failure.
  • The integrated approach would consist of a ten (10) week work period.  Over the course of the 10 weeks, all labor, equipment, and tools are dedicated to this integrated plan.
  • Pricing includes crane, labor and tooling to replace major component.  Cost for replacement parts are not included.
  • Use of an 825 ton capacity truck crane has been used for pricing.  Crane is capable of removing any rotor assembly, blade, gearbox or generator.
  • Pricing assumes after each major component exchange, the crane needs to be disassembled and moved to another turbine on the same project or another project. 
wind fleet -  integrated approach


Map-hypothetical case study

Cost Comparison

Reviewing the two approaches side-by-side, you can see, the integrated approach results in significantly less capital cost and will reduce turbine downtime by as much as 75 percent since the only downtime is when the component is being exchanged versus the run-to failure approach where the downtime could consist of an investigation, replacement part lead time, RFP process as well as availability of crane and crews.  In addition, the integrated approach will give the Operator price certainty in regards to market volatility, wind/weather risk, and ability to schedule the work in the optimal time of the year in regards to inclement weather.  

cost comparison table

The primary cost savings are gained from the reduced mobilization costs by strategically developing a proactive plan.  It is safe to say each scenario will be different and there are many factors that will weigh into pricing, but as you can see, the integrated approach is significantly more economical and efficient.   

Benefits of a Run-to-Failure Approach

  • Receive 100% utilization life of the component
  • Only pay for the crane when it is being utilized

Benefits of an Integrated Approach

  • Reduces turbine downtime
  • Consistency with crews and equipment
  • Minimize mobilization costs amongst fleet
  • Full control of equipment and crews for a fixed duration to reduce wind/weather risk
  • Ability to control time of year to perform major component exchanges – minimizes wind/weather risk, reduces downtime in high wind seasons, avoidance of inclement weather conditions
  • Reduces back office support (legal, RFP process, etc.)
  • Fixed costs spread throughout multiple repairs
  • Long-term equipment rental rates versus weekly or daily rates

In summary, this example clearly demonstrates the significant benefits of an integrated approach to major component exchanges.  Challenging the current run-to-failure method presents an opportunity to create new efficiencies in your maintenance program.  Mortenson Energy Services can help your team realign its maintenance strategy to capture the benefits of a proactive, integrated approach.

Please contact Todd Bell with any questions regarding the integrated approach philosophy.