Voith utilizes big data and AI for hydro project

Voith and the national power company of Iceland, Landsvirkjun, have launched a joint pilot project on intelligent noise analysis in hydropower plants.

Voith is installing an acoustic monitoring system in the Budarhals hydropower plant in Iceland that detects turbine noise that deviates from normal conditions to prevent potential shutdowns in good time.

In addition, the continuous analysis of machine data is designed to facilitate an optimized mode of operation and the intelligent scheduling of maintenance work. The system is set to go into operation in September.

“We are installing a system in the Budarhals power plant that permanently evaluates the acoustic condition of the machines,” explains Bastian Berg, project manager and specialist in automation and data analysis at Voith Digital Solutions.

“Using artificial intelligence, the system will complement the monitoring of the power plant and preventive maintenance undertaken by personnel and identify potential machine damage in good time.”

Microphones will be mounted at specified locations in the plant and will record all ambient noise to store it in the Voith Bluebox for preprocessing. The final data interpretation will be done at a special Voith platform. For calibration purposes, the system records all acoustic signals in an initial learning phase. In doing so it complies with strict data protection guidelines. The data collected is then compared with that of other hydropower plants. Due to the combination with the operating data the application learns which noises correspond to normal machine behaviour. In a second learning phase, the system is capable of immediately recognizing deviations from the typical noise pattern. In this case the system sends out a warning and at the same time notifies one of the power plant operator’s service technicians.

In the pilot project at the Budarhals plant, Voith is testing a new service model for its noise pattern analysis for the first time. The system uses a data-based approach and is intended to help power plant operators to optimize maintenance and operation.

“After the system is installed in the power plant we expect between 10 and 15 unknown ambient noises every day in the initial phase. These first have to be analyzed manually and documented,” explains Berg. “The system learns continually and becomes more and more intelligent over time.” To keep the customer’s work to a minimum, Voith is offering a 24/7 service for this pilot project, in which the unknown noise is evaluated by a Voith expert very quickly. If the noise suggests a critical or atypical machine status, the customer’s control room is informed immediately.

As the pilot project proceeds, the system should work more and more autonomously and identify more noises. In combination with various KPIs, the data collected is then investigated and analyzed for complex correlations by the Voith experts and a team of data analysts.

The results are then provided as a regular report to the power plant operator, allowing operation and maintenance to be optimized. The content of the report is adapted to customer needs on an ongoing basis and the added value verified together with customer.

“In future we will be able to use our noise pattern analysis to tell the operators of hydropower plants the ideal time for replacing mechanical components, for example. Maintenance work and forthcoming repairs can therefore be planned transparently and very efficiently,” says Berg.

The Budarhals plant was opened in 2014 and has an installed output of 95 MW. It has a capacity of around 585 GW hours per year. Voith has equipped the plant with two Kaplan turbines with water-filled impellers and cutting-edge generators with specially developed brushless and bluetooth thyristor-controlled excitation systems.

Apart from the main components of the electromechanical equipment and the control systems, Voith also supplied the crane systems for the plant’s powerhouse.

Voith is exhibiting at Electrify Europe in Vienna in June. Meet the company’s team at booth A-S10.

VIDEO:à‚ Voith Turbo talkS about how it is embracing digitalization and also spotlights the VECO Drive, an electric superimposing gear that combines a mechanical planetary gear with frequency-controlled servo motors.

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