Slipring Harness Failure Modes and Solutions


Exposure to torsion, oil, abrasion, temperature extremes and human interference can cause downtime and loss of production.

Original equipment manufacturers are required to provide complete systems for industrial applications. Typically, the technical expertise lies in the most critical aspect of the project. Subsequently, many ancillary components are designed to the best of their abilility, but an fall short in the application due to a lack of knowledge and experience in all areas. One example of this is the slipring harness, which controls the three-blade pitch motors. This harness is subject to constant abuse in the form of torsion, oil exposure, abrasion and temperature extremes. When products like these fail, the wind farm experiences significant downtime, loss of revenue, and maintenance expense.

TPC Wire and Cable Corp consulted a major wind farm owner to design and develop a custom slipring harness that addresses the multiple failure modes encountered in the tower. The TPC harness was designed to be flexible at all temperatures, easy to install, and last for many years in the abusive wind tower environment. Previously, the slipring harnesses needed to be replaced every 12 months on average. The TPC slipring harnesses have been in continuous service for more than four years without a single failure.

Snaking the harness through 90 degree elbows, and terminating individual conductors to terminal blocks in very tight clearance areas had previously been very difficult, especially in cold weather. The highly flexible TPC harness was much easier to install at both the hub and the slipring end. Maintenance personnel were thrilled to have a robust, easy to install solution to one of their primary failure areas.

Material and labor cost savings alone totaled $8,575 per turbine, according to the manufacturer, but the increase in production hours of the tower ranged from eight hours to multiple days, depending on the availability of personnel to make the repair. When multiplied across an entire wind farm, the immediate savings and increase in production is important.

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