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The Norwegian North Cape is a pretty inhospitable region. Temperatures at -25 degrees Celsius and winds reaching speeds of up to 160 kph are commonplace. Winter lasts seven months and involves heavy snowfall, storms and sudden weather changes.

Conditions that are not very welcoming to people can have real advantages in other areas, however. At Havøygavlen, the world's most northerly wind farm , some 100 kilometers from the North Cape, 15 wind turbines produce 90 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.

Visibility in the dark

Naturally this performance does not occur without wear and tear. Not only are maintenance sessions and on-site operations difficult and costly under these raw conditions, but it is pitch-dark for many months out of the year, and transporting replacement parts, intervention teams and other resources under extreme conditions is a logistical nightmare. A good reason for operator Arctic Wind to build a second, completely identical wind farm, albeit virtual – a digital twin .

With the help of the Internet of Things, the turbines, rotors, transformers and other components continuously transmit sensor data to the Arctic Wind control center to support a predictive maintenance approach. Combining this with weather data, tidal and other information, software from SAP creates a virtual portrayal of the Havøygavlen facility, rendering physical inspection almost obsolete. The solution takes into account complex forces that impact the system, and determines both the direct effects of one-time events and the long-term consequences of cyclical strains.

This creates a much more precise picture of material wear than an on-site inspection could provide. Necessary repairs can then be predicted and planned efficiently – or even prevented, by the system adjusting itself.

This means significantly lower maintenance costs for the operator – and fewer icy outings under inhospitable polar nighttime conditions for technicians.

The possibilities offered by the Internet of Things beyond machine and system maintenance are on view at HANNOVER MESSE. Such as at the Predictive Maintenance display in Hall 19 .