Sage Oil Vac has been serving the wind industry for a number of years. Can you tell our readers a little about the company’s product offerings?
In addition to our Gear Oil Exchange Systems (GOEX), Sage Oil Vac manufactures mobile lube equipment for fluid handling and transportation in a variety of industries. Those industries include everything from oil and gas, agriculture, and construction to specialized military systems. We strive to give our customers choices, and in 2015, we plan on launching several new products for our wind industry customers that will include a truck-mounted system and a tote system among others. We will also introduce several improvements to our flagship system that will make it lighter, faster, and more user friendly.
How does using the exchange system for gearbox oil changes differ from the traditional method?
Traditionally, the oil was exchanged using five gallon buckets that were hoisted up and down the towers. Most wind turbine gearboxes hold 80 gallons of oil or more, so countless man hours and resources were wasted. Not to mention, this practice was very unsafe and highly inefficient. The traditional method also never offered a flush and rinse of the gearbox, which is vitally important when it comes to gear oil particle counts.
In some parts of the world, the oil is never changed until a gearbox failure occurs. In China for example, the conditions inside some of their gearboxes is shocking. I recently traveled to Beijing to train customers on our system and to educate them about the physical and financial benefits of gear oil exchanges. Since then, our systems have grown in popularity and they have quickly adopted our O&M best practices.
What are the practical, physical benefits of using the GOEX to perform turbine gearbox oil changes?
The two greatest physical benefits to utilizing our system are clean oil and extending the life span of the gearbox. New oil is typically dirty, and our system uses a 3-micron filtration system to filter new oil to required ISO levels before it touches the gearbox. Oil samples taken from the gearbox after the use of our system have consistently shown a drastic reduction in the amount of contaminants such as dirt, iron, and wear particles. If your gearbox fails, the cost associated with replacing it can be upwards of half a million dollars. Owning or renting an asset like our Gear Oil Exchange System coupled with a pro-active approach to maintenance equates to improved reliability and a higher ROI.
How does that translate into operational benefits, as far as maintenance schedules, downtime and labor savings, extending equipment lifespan, etc.?
Sage Oil Vac strives to provide our customers with most efficient, cost effective tools on the market today. Oil changes, joined with on-site repairs, used to require larger crews, longer downtimes, and more money. When used properly, our systems can transform a messy, cumbersome 8-hour oil change job into a productive, multifaceted success. A preventative maintenance schedule is imperative when it comes to reducing wind turbine downtime. That’s why our customers make effective use of their time, and operate our system while performing other required routine maintenance.
Do operators see a cost savings as a result of using your equipment to streamline those processes?
Simply put, most O&M service providers in the market today are multitaskers, and any piece of equipment that can maximize time and increase efficiency and profitability is vital to their success. Our goal is to create and construct tools that do just that. Time is money, and our pioneering GOEX systems cut oil change procedure time by more than half. Our dynamic line of products offers our customers the opportunity to optimize their business processes and customer services. Oil changes can be performed year round through the use of our enclosed and insulated GOEX systems. The Sage Oil Vac GOEX Offshore system can create new prospects for companies looking to expand out to sea. The possibilities are boundless.
What are the overall long-term benefits that justify the use of the system?
The Sage Oil Vac GOEX System has been used on basically every major wind turbine OEM across the globe. Gearboxes are generally the single largest issue when it comes to operations and maintenance cost. Addressing the long term issues such as oil contamination control, abrasive wear, and corrosion can result in an increase in energy production and gearbox reliability. The use of our system, joined with oil change procedures written by the top gear oil manufactures of the world, has helped to reduce the amount of common maintenance problems previously seen in the wind industry.
Is the GOEX only available for purchase, or do customers have the option of an equipment lease program?
Yes, we currently offer a rental program to US based customers through our headquarters in Amarillo, Texas. SOO Foundry & Machine is our authorized dealership in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and they offer rentals to Canadian based customers. If anyone is interested in our rental program, please feel free to contact us at any time.
Every wind farm and maintenance protocol is different. How do you address situations where customers may need a custom set-up?
Sage Oil Vac takes pride in the fact that our company was built on innovation and the development of solutions. We are contacted by clients on a daily basis who need our assistance with unique circumstances. We thrive on the opportunity to tackle new challenges head on, and we do so by identifying the voice of our customers. If any current or prospective customer has ideas on improving processes that will maximize the impact on their oil exchange method, we would love to hear from you.