23 October 2009

Ampair 6000 progress update

A quick update on where we are with the Ampair 6000. Basically we have started installing and as a result are finding a few snags that we had not flushed out in testing at our own site.

On one site in Scotland the client wiring was not ready and so that installation has not been commissioned yet. We've since had a problem at another site and have asked the Scoittish to hold fire a moment in case we want to make a change to anything - it is a very long way away in case we switch it on too soon.

At a site in eastern England we used a new alternator design that has had bench testing but not had live wind testing at our site. We pulled it forwards in the build sequence because that client wanted the new alternator which is smashing from a performance perspective as it includes a few lessons from testing of the first batch. We've had a lot of problems which are probably because of this decision. We suspect that the alternator is the cause of the problems but equally the site is showing issues with earth leakage. Or it could be a combination of both alternator-inverter and inverter-grid. To add insult to injury our nice remote monitoring system has decided to be uncooperative on this site of all sites. Need less to say we are furiously trying to get to the bottom of this as it affects all turbines that naturally fit into the production sequence after that one. And unfortunately each time we go to site the wind does not blow much. We've struggled with this for two weeks now.

Another site further south has been installed and is going live any day now with the initial batch of alternators which will help us in trying to flush out these problems. We are also building various test rigs and looking to fly a new style alternator here at the factory if the wind cooperates (which it did not when we last tried).

The assembly sequence is going fine and the mast installs are going fine so that side of things is good. The remote monitoring is still a work in progress but is making progress. We are trying to improve a few installability issues with our electrical package - to be truthful more maintainability than installability. These have become more evident as a result of trying to troubleshoot the new alternator unit.

So not quite where we'd like to be, and we are very much scratching our heads on the new alternator unit. But progress none the less.

As it happens two days ago I was at the BWEA annual conference in Liverpool and a colleague at another small wind turbine company told me they'd recently had to switch off all their machines due to a manufacturing defect they found. He said he was getting a lot of grief over this and that clients are absolutely expecting right first time. He found that rather unfair as even Boeing are late by two years on their 787, and often major auto manufacturers are late with new product development or have to do recalls. And these major companies have enormous resources which for sure small wind companies seldom do. His view is that consumers have become detached from the underlying engineering reality as a result of virtual reality and marketing. Anyway I guess we'd better plug away at learning how to solve our issues and this blog post is just to update everybody the same way I updated the visitors to our stand at the BWEA conference.

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