Against the backdrop of ambitious climate goals and an ever-increasing awareness of sustainability issues in society, renewable energy generation – including wind power as a central component – is of growing importance. As market leader and strategic development partner, the global automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler has been supplying reliable bearing solutions for onshore and offshore wind turbines for around 40 years. Rolling bearings from Schaeffler can be found in every second to third wind turbine worldwide.
Schaeffler introduced a Wind Power Standard for wind turbine bearings more than ten years ago, which considers the high demands on the reliability of turbines and associated components. This standard for products and processes ensures that wind turbine bearings are subject to the highest quality standards, as also implemented, for example, in the automotive industry, and in the aviation and aerospace sectors. The start of the year marked the manufacture and delivery of the millionth bearing by Schaeffler in accordance with the Wind Power Standard.
The progression to multi-megawatt turbines is resulting in higher loads and torques, which place the components under even greater strain, while the costs associated with downtime and maintenance work in the event of a failure are becoming increasingly higher - especially where offshore systems are involved.
“Our customers require reliable components that allow the increasing power density in wind turbines to be used to its full potential. With the Schaeffler Wind Power Standard, we have been ensuring the highest level of quality for more than ten years – and with more than a million bearings to date,” says Bernd Endres, head of the wind power business unit at Schaeffler.
To ensure these high standards, Schaeffler relies on coordinated and transparent processes, a defined change management system, strict quality control, and extensive documentation along the entire process chain – which is achieved in close cooperation with customers and suppliers. Targeted supplier development activities ensure that the highest quality standard is achieved from the outset.
Compliance with the strict quality standards that apply on a global scale to all development and design teams – as well as to all production facilities that design and manufacture bearings for wind turbines – is monitored via internal audits. In addition to the long-standing experience and comprehensive system expertise of the specialists at Schaeffler, the use of state-of-the-art calculation and simulation programs ensures that wind turbine bearings are designed to optimum effect. The calculations are supplemented and validated on powerful test rigs. Schaeffler offers extensive testing options, particularly for rotor bearings, in the form of its “Astraios” large size bearing test rig.