OEM and Preventive Maintenance

In the wind turbine industry, preventive maintenance (PM) has not really proved popular the main reason being that OEMs do not practice it to a large extent and owners usually continue the service plan of the OEM.

Why do the OEMs not use PM to a larger extent? Is it not a good idea? If you do not know the answer to that question please read my article about benefits of PM. However, I can tell you that there are many advantages.

So why do the OEMs not use it?

Because it is not an advantage to them! There are two main beneficial financial drivers when using PM – higher availability and lower OPEX. Unfortunately, most service and maintenance contracts are constructed in a way that makes it disadvantageous for the OEM to use PM.

Let us look at the two main drivers separately.

Availability

The contractual availability is typically so low that OEMs do not have major challenges when it comes to staying above the limit, which is usually 97-98%. They do not benefit from the availability of 99% – “only” the customer does that.

OPEX

PM means changing a component preventively, i.e. before it breaks. The advantage is to avoid unplanned downtime due to failure. In addition, you can plan the PM in connection with one of the planned annual service visits, saving time and resources. Furthermore, there are a number of other benefits that you can read about in the article “The Many Advantages of Preventive Maintenance”.

Is it not an advantage for the OEM? No, quite the contrary. If the OEM has to replace more components than absolutely necessary, it results in a higher OPEX – and higher availability is not an advantage for the OEM.

For an OEM the key is keeping OPEX as low as possible, i.e. to change as few components as possible. Unfortunately, it can also lead to consequential damages to other components in the turbine, which can prove very expensive to repair when the turbine owner takes over the maintenance.

Is it a solvable problem? Yes, it is, but it means constructing the contract in a way that makes it a win-win for both owner and OEM to use PM. Another way to solve the problem is that the owner himself takes over the service of the park at the earliest moment possible, e.g. from day 1, with a component contract so he has access to all the components in the turbine.

This OEM issue is also seen when using an independent service provider.

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