Lommel, Belgium. ZF Wind Power answers the current and future growth in the offshore market with the investment in a 15 MW end- of-line test bench for complete powertrains.
The demand for wind energy is increasing worldwide. Turbines are getting bigger and more powerful. As a result, the powertrain – the heart of the turbine – is growing. With the expansion of ZF Wind Power’s portfolio from the serial gearbox to serial powertrain production, the manufacturing processes will be adapted, and the end- of-line test process upgraded.
Empowering a sustainable future together starts on the shop floor
Wind turbine manufacturers are taking drastic measures to mitigate risks based on strong market fundamentals for achieving sustainable growth. While the wind energy supply chain faces massive challenges, ZF commits to taking important steps in empowering a sustainable future together with its partners.
One of these steps is the integration of powertrain assembly at the shop floor level. The team uses an advanced software tool to build a digital twin of the production facility before building the plant and setting up the assembly processes with maximum use of available production knowledge. “This encompasses all necessary assembly and logistical steps to be virtually predefined, checked in 3D, optimized, and validated,” explains Felix Henseler, CEO of ZF Wind Power. The ZF development of a digital twin for future serial production ensures swift, effective integration in the existing manufacturing facilities. “This involves completely transforming the current set-up for accommodating future product portfolios, including the V236-15.0 MW,” concludes Felix Henseler.
18 MNm of torque to test at high load levels
In the first quarter of 2024, the first serial-produced 15 MW powertrain for the offshore market will leave ZF Wind Power Lommel. Before these powertrains are shipped to the OEM’s destination, the system functionality of the complete powertrain (gearbox, generator, and main bearing assembly) needs to be verified. “An end-of-line test cycle will check the function of the system under load, testing both hydraulics and sensor connections, as well as contact patterns for the gears, in addition to checking lubrication, temperature, pressure, and noise and vibration levels,” explains Martin Knops, CTO of ZF Wind Power.
The end-of-line test rig for ZF Wind Power will be delivered by R&D in the fall of 2023. It conducts very energy-efficient load tests, powered by the 15 MW generators of the powertrains, providing an impressive 18 MNm of torque to test the unit at high load levels. This final test ensures that the powertrain and all its connections work as they should, even when exposed to all forces of nature. “The end-of-line test rig reduces mounting time by up to 90 percent which enables us to test two powertrains a day. This is a win-win situation for us and our partner Vestas,“ summarizes Martin Knops.