Remote Monitoring of Wind Turbines

A low cost, reliable, battery powered, remote monitoring system seems almost too good to be true—Crystal Instruments has made that dream a reality.

After a customer came to us asking if we could develop a solution for monitoring wind turbines in a remote field in Canada, we thought there was no way. However, with the combined capabilities of our renowned Spider-80X coupled with a Lithium Ion battery, and a strong modem connection, we thought maybe this could be possible.

Fast forward six months, we now have 6 Spider-80X systems deployed in the field streaming back constant data to the users truly 24 hours, 7 days a week, for the next three years. In addition, we have a 56-channel count system operating in the field remotely as well.

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The true power behind the remote monitoring system is the software that we developed to give a live update to the user. The software that we developed from the ground up is called EDM Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM). Users can download the data from all systems with one click, view their alarm statuses, and configure all sample rates, block sizes, and windowing functions on the fly—all from the warm comfortable seat at the office. All data is organized using Microsoft SQL server 2014 to provide a reliable database atmosphere.

This system hardware consists of two pelican cases, one 35 Ah battery, one solar charger, one 100-watt solar panel, one wireless modem from Sierra Wireless, and the Spider-80X system. Given the harsh climate in Canada and potential for a buildup of snow on the solar panels, there was a concern with the power consumption of all components. So far with the months of field testing all units have been working well and have not had a power interruption.

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As seen in the above figure, all systems can be viewed from one collective screen. Note that the running status of all systems is given, total time elapsed for the test, the amount of new data files recorded or saved on the Spider, alarm statuses, location of the Spider, as well as the last update received from the system. In addition, recording status can be viewed live for each system as shown below.

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As seen above, on system 2590752 there are eight channels all currently recording. The system records the data to the 4GB internal flash storage. Since the data can be remotely downloaded, the user can also remotely delete data as well.

This system, while very successful in the wind turbine industry, has large potential in many manufacturing applications. For instance, take a papermill that is looking to get vibration data from all their mills spread through a facility. Instead of now wiring all units to one network, all systems can be wirelessly synched together transmitting data in real time. This system also has large implications in the machine health monitoring market—units can now be networked and spread across the world providing large amounts of data to be analyzed. Now, organizations like the US Navy or Boeing can trend data from hundreds of machines across multiple countries. 

Crystal Instruments is extremely excited to debut this new technology and is actively looking for more areas to apply this new system. If you have any questions or interest in what Crystal Instruments has done here, please reach out to