Environmentally friendly electricity from wind power is one of the most important mainstays of a renewable energy supply. By the year 2025, around 25 percent of today’s electricity consumption is to be covered by wind power. However, investment in the construction and operation of wind farms, which cost billions, must be worthwhile over the long term for manufacturers, electricity suppliers and investors. In this regard, economical and reliable manufacturing of wind turbines is increasingly becoming a decisive success factor. The following real-world example demonstrates how correct fluid management can play a part early on in the manufacture of generators, gearboxes, rotor shafts and other components for the wind power industry.

Wind power experts increase their efficiency

Customers from the wind power industry increasingly rely on water-miscible, user-friendly coolants during production, such as rhenus TS 20 and rhenus FS 760 from Rhenus Lub. These coolants are characterised by a high level of technical performance during grinding and machining. Thanks to their high stability and low discharge losses, they have low top-up rates.

However, to further increase the efficiency of their production processes, innovation-driven companies in the renewable energy sector are taking an additional decisive step forward: They choose to rely on integrated process analysis and optimisation by Rhenus Lub—rhenus lubrineering—to control all coolant-related factors. As part of advanced fluid management, Rhenus Lub combines its modern products (lubricants) with highly specialised process knowledge (engineering) and continuously optimises the entire manufacturing process. The foundation for this is a comprehensive analysis based on a unique benchmark system.

Parameters — the secret to success

From up to 20 parameters that have been identified in the use of fluids and make individual consumption and performance data clear, Rhenus Lub selects those parameters that are relevant to lowering unit costs and increasing output. Experts analyse the entire individual machining process, determine the new coolant preparation and then calculate the resultant costs as well as the effort involved in maintenance and refilling. On the basis of this information, they precisely establish the ratio of all coolant-specific costs to the machining costs — down to the level of individual workpieces.

Experience shows that fluids and their use account for approximately 18 percent of all manufacturing costs in the metalworking industry. A large proportion of fluid costs—80 percent and even up to 95 percent—are due to refilling or readjustments over the entire operation time. Refilling and changing the coolant, on the other hand, account for approximately 5 to 20 percent of the total costs. A smaller disposal volume saves money

In addition to the purchase price, factors such as disposal, filter technology, recycling or reclamation need to be taken into account, as they are significantly influenced by coolants. In a specific application scenario, the specialists from Rhenus Lub, working in close cooperation with the customer, analysed the consumption and disposal volumes of the wind power specialist and optimised them little by little. The result is impressive: By fine-tuning processes, the disposal volume was reduced by more than a third — that translates into disposal and recycling cost savings.

Another serious problem during production was also solved within the framework of comprehensive fluid management: Defects repeatedly caused leaks from the machines during ongoing production. The lubricant experts identified the defects and eliminated them. As a result, it was possible to improve the general condition of the processing machines over the long term and make production safer and more economical overall.

Experience brings reliability

For many customers, making changes to ongoing production processes is comparable to performing “open heart surgery” — a very delicate procedure. For this reason, the rhenus lubrineering team from Mönchengladbach works closely with users to establish realistic sub-goals in advance of process optimisation. “Thanks to the experience gained from more than 60 successful rhenus lubrineering-projects, we know that combining high-quality coolants with a sophisticated fluid management system is often the key to valuable optimisation opportunities”, explains Björn Linevondeberg, Product Manager for rhenus lubrineering at Rhenus Lub. “But the most important thing is that we can already confirm to our customers how much they will ultimately save in concrete terms before they start using rhenus lubrineering”.