Howard Penrose with MotorDoc

Industrial Talk is onsite at SMRP 31 and talking to Howard Penrose, President at MotorDoc, LLC about “Condition monitoring wind turbines from the ground through innovative solutions“.  Here are some of the key takeaways from our conversation:

  • Industrial security solutions and electrical reliability. 0:00
    • Palo Alto Networks provides comprehensive security solutions for all assets, networks, and remote operations.
    • Howard is the president of Motor Dock LLC, an electrical reliability company that provides services and consulting, and distributes Empath electrical signature analysis equipment.
    • Howard has 11 years of experience on the board of SMRP and agrees that it's a great platform for networking and influencing the industry.
  • Wind turbine maintenance and inspection. 4:12
    • Howard explains how technology developed at Oak Ridge National Labs in the 1980s can assess the condition of wind turbine components in real-time, without climbing the tower.
    • Predictive maintenance for wind turbines now possible with remote analysis.
    • Howard, chair of standards for wind, solar, and energy storage, explains that maintenance crews typically work on one tower at a time, following strict safety protocols and using climb assist technology to reduce climbing time (10-15 minutes).
    • Howard highlights the importance of following rules and regulations to ensure safety when working at heights, and notes that some younger technicians may take shortcuts but it's crucial to follow proper procedures to avoid accidents.
  • Using electrical signature analysis for wind turbine maintenance. 11:04
    • Technician ankle and shoulder issues identified in safety standards meetings, leading to retrofits and elevator-like ladders.
    • Howard explains how their technology can detect mechanical issues in wind turbines before they fail, using a minute of audio data to identify problems like misalignment and energy losses.
    • Industry adopting electrical signature analysis to monitor wind turbine health.
  • Industrial maintenance and energy efficiency. 17:29
    • Scott MacKenzie and Howard discuss the challenges of working in the energy industry, including the importance of addressing complex issues and the potential for significant losses in plant energy consumption.
    • Howard's career has involved taking on difficult tasks and research areas that others have deemed unpopular or too complicated, leading to valuable insights and innovations in the field.
    • Scott MacKenzie invites listeners to connect with Howard Penrose, a speaker at the 31st Annual SMRP Conference in Orlando, and to find out more about what they're doing at Motor Dock.
    • Scott encourages listeners to participate in industrial talk, a platform for industrial professionals to amplify their voice and get their message out, and to collaborate with him to change the world.

Finally, get your exclusive free access to the Industrial Academy and a series on “Why You Need To Podcast” for Greater Success in 2023. All links designed for keeping you current in this rapidly changing Industrial Market. Learn! Grow! Enjoy!


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tower, vibration, palo alto networks, wind turbine, signature, industrial, howard, identified, motor, asset, electrical, industry, generator, ot, wind farm, empath, technology, analysis, solution, ran


Industrial Talk is brought to you by Palo Alto Networks. You've heard me talk about my friends at Palo Alto Networks Zero Trust OT security delivering a comprehensive security solution for all OT assets, networks and remote operations. But did you know that the Palo Alto Networks solution provides over 1100 app IDs for OT protocols, over 500 profiles for critical OT assets, and over 650 OT specific threat signatures, now that's best in class security delivered, learn more about Palo Alto Networks, zero trust IoT security solutions, and how you can achieve 351% ROI over five years, learn more about the Palo Alto Networks solution by going out to Palo Alto That's Palo Alto


Welcome to the Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting-edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go.


Alright, once again, thank you very much for joining Industrial Talk. And thank you for your continued support of a platform that is dedicated to industry professionals all around the world, you are bold, you are very brave, you dare greatly you innovate, you solve problems, you are making the world a better place. Thank you very much for what you are doing. We are on site right now. SMRP is the organization. And we are right on the floor with all of the vendors that are around here. And there's Japan, there's just great solutions. Absolutely. Wonderful, wonderful event, put that on your calendar. By the way, if you are interested, if you are in the reliability space, and you're saying to yourself, how do I get more involved, you need to go out to They have a lot of programs, a lot of opportunities to engage a lot of opportunities to network together. So it is a must, that if you're just into the reliability. That is your first stop Make it happen, Captain. All right. Howard is in the hot seat. Thank goodness, Howard is here's the first one out of the gate. And he's going to dazzle you because he is dazzling. Howard, how are you doing?


I'm doing great. How you doing? Well, man got so many things going on. And by the way, I agree I did my 11 years on the board. Did your SMRP all the way up through 2019. It was probably the best time I've had other than my technical stuff. But


I love the collegial nature of it. Everybody's willing to help. Oh yeah. I don't care what it is. Everybody's willing to help each other trying to keep that asset up and running and whatever, you


know, yeah. And influence the industry. I mean, Cass has come a long way. You've seen a lot of changes. Oh, yeah. Government Relations was a big deal under my tenure, you know, going out and influencing the rules and regulations that affect our industry. That was great.


I can't complain. So you haven't been compensated? Yeah.


So far. I mean, two hours last night, right. Was was fantastic. It made delicious food. Oh, yeah. Well, yeah. It wasn't all fried.


When in doubt, man, it's delicious food. Yes, definitely. All right. For the listeners out there. Howard, give us a little background on who you are.


I am the president of motor dock LLC, which is a an electrical reliability company. We do services we do consulting and of course, we distribute the empath electrical signature analysis equipment.


Let's level set here. You just said Empath, just just so that I'm on board and I understand what's going on? What is the empath? Well, let


me tell you how your motor feels. Okay, so tell it tell us a little bit. Yeah, electric motor performance analysis tool hardware. It actually is the original device developed at Oak Ridge National Labs for testing electrical and mechanical.


And by the way, they have great augmented reality. Oh, they do? Yeah. And virtual reality training. Go ahead.


Yeah, they sure do. But at Oak Ridge National Labs, they had developed this technology back in the 1980s. And contrary to popular belief, current signature and electrical signature was meant to look at mechanical systems. And during the 1990s people focused on it for things like rotor bar testing, which I kind of find that amusing because I used to use a clamp on analog ammeter to do the same thing, right, right, vibration analyst first, but right now Now we use the technology ours isn't the only one capable of doing a full wind turbine. So we'll walk into the base of a tower without having to climb away. Do I look like I climb?


No, I was gonna, I really was I was getting to the point of going, No, I get it. That's great that you could do a wind turbine, but I know that they're not on the ground, and


they don't have elevators. But yeah, walk in there in about a minute be able to tell you the condition of the transformer all components in the generator, the gearbox, that's three stages, again, box one or two and plus one or two planetary gear sets, the main bearings, turning that under 14 rpm, and then even the condition of the blades in a minute in a minute. All at once. The difference the difference between vibration and ultrasound and electrical signature, is we use the magnetic field, the air gap of the machine is the transducer. So you see how everything in the system interacts?


Okay, let's take that use case of the wind turbine. So you go to the wind turbine. It's tall. Yep. It's turning. It's really tall. It's turning, it's doing its wind turbine thing. Yeah. How do you hook that up? How do you get that anyway? You just sort of stick it on the tower. It's all for what is it? Yeah,


pretty much. Actually. Yes. Well, when we first started, it was primarily like the old ge 1.5 towers. So we could go in and we'd connect directly to the 690 volts and the current on the cables going up tower. It was dangerous, we had to shut the towers down, you had to stand outside the tower, start everything back up, you know, all the arc flash requirements and so on, it's on, it would take an hour or so a tower. And then we started going off of the CTS in the tower and going oh, CTS don't give me an acronym. Oh, sorry. current transformer. Thank you. We were going into the low voltage side, low energy side of the cabinets. We've identified those in every type of wind turbine now. And so we can go in they don't have to shut the towers down. We walked on this tower really connect and they love it because we don't have to shut down a tower. You know, you're talking about a small towers, one and a half megawatts. The larger towers will be three to five megawatts. Yeah, onshore. And, and then we also do a remote version of it. We've had remote remote analysis or continuous electrical signature analysis for since 2017.


So on when you do this, we were using as use case when you when you create that analysis, and you come up with the health of that asset. Pretty much. Yeah. Do you also go into the adventure into the predictive type of area where you're saying okay, it's got some issues here and maybe a little issues here but but you know, whenever you have your planned out, it's you got you got you got time? Oh, yes. Or, You better shut it down. The number


one failure in a generator right now is the wind, the wind and connection in the rotor? Every single, what's called a doubly fed induction generator. So wound rotor generator, every one of them has the exact same type of failure mode. And we can detect those up to 14 months out. The only other way of detecting it is with borescope. Testing, and you're testing that weeks out.


Just for my giggles How? How often do they take the wind out returns out for maintenance plan to maintenance?


How often are they supposed to or how often? Yeah, what


what's the what's the industry standard? What's the rule of thumb on and to perform some sort of maintenance?


Okay, I happen to be chair of standards for wind, solar and energy storage for American clean power. That's my latest thing.


Did I just feed you a line?


Yes. So you're welcome. Yes. So So technically, there's certain things like greasing and everything else that are done quarterly. There's other semi basically what we always do the neat thing about a power plant a wind farm, which is your power plant itself. Everybody keeps going, Oh, that's the generator and they look at a single tower. No, that's the cell of the generator. The generator is the whole site. So when you go in, well, we'll get into that. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, no, you can shut down individual towers to do maintenance. Okay, so they'll send a crew out and they'll say we're going to work on this tower this tower in this tower today. You know, that kind of thing? Because you can only claim so many towers. Right and you're going to hold the allowed to climb so many times per day. Are you really Yeah, yeah, I mean, you have to remember where you're, you're talking about vertical ladder 300 feet plus.


So they didn't do that when I was a transmission lineman, we, we climbed tower after tower after tower the whole day hot washing.


Yeah, yeah, well, I mean, they're lucky now. I mean, they do have climb Assist, which is something gone. And if you ever go into a tower, you'll see a little motor at the bottom of the ladder, and then you go up to a deck, and then you get off there and you reconnect, you have to wear fall protect. Yeah. And, but it takes a while to go up, because of all the rules that have been followed. I mean, some of the kids I run into in the field, I mean, they just scramble up the tower, they're up there in a couple of minutes. So yeah, the average time to hit the top of the tower is about 10 to 15 minutes. And then you have to take your equipment up. So they'll usually bring it up either depending on the tower type, either through a crane on the inside, so you don't carry your tools with you. Or on the outside way things have changed just a little they abused me.




Well, you figure the I think it was one of the safety standards meetings where we identified that the average technician start seeing ankle and shoulder issues, you know, after 10 years if they're not careful. So they've done climate assist, there's some companies out there now that have retrofits at attaching the ladders. So that ladder then becomes an elevator to use, you can step onto pedestals, and you have two animals, you don't grip anything, and it takes you all the way up.


So back to back to the original question. You know, it makes sense that if I'm able to, to, to conduct the right testing, and to be able to do it in such a way that I can, in some level of confidence, be able to, I hate to say but predict or determine the health of that asset. And then that means I can, with confidence, sweat the asset a little bit, I don't have to have that planned maintenance, in a sense, where I'm hoping every six months, I've got to do this every six months, I've got to do that you're able to sort of sweat the asset a little bit, because you're you're receiving the information that is necessary to make those determinations. Right.


And our technology has been determined to be over 90% accurate. In


wind. So So is everybody knocking down your door? We've


done 10% Of all the towers that exists. So yeah, and all of the service companies use our technology or use us directly. Because


without a doubt, if I'm not having people climb up and down, up and down the only climb when as necessary, right? Yeah. And I would imagine there is a benefit are that, okay, this portion of the wind turbine is beginning to show signs of failure or where or whatever the terminology is. So bring that, well, don't bring this, bring that and send that


up, I'm gonna, I'm gonna hit you with something even more. And that's about 11 o'clock. But one of the differences by doing a systems analysis is I can identify the drivers that cause the wear before the wear starts. So if I see a misalignment, I will see the energy losses through components before it starts to age them rapidly. So we're talking about something where things are my favorite self made word medical? It is man. Yep. Before you, you know, so for instance, I might see one we did on a tower we identified, you know, 14 kilowatts and of loss and a thrust bearing five kilowatts a loss and in the main bearing, and that helped us identify that a spacer was missing and a coupling right after had been rebuilt.


You can do this all in a minute. Yes. That you can come down to that level of detail and the determination of that.


Yeah, and here's something even more fun talk to me is it's not load dependent. The way so yeah, so we convert everything over to decibels, and it's relative to the load. So when we detect a problem, the the the limit on electrical signature analysis in general, because you'll hear it, and it actually depends on the resolution of the technology being used. Some will have a resolution where the peaks that you're looking for will blend into harmonic peaks to show you lose the condition pique you're looking for. So they'll be limited to 50 or 60% of load our particular technology which was which is built by framatome, which is a small $12 billion nuclear services company. The resolution is down to point 005 hertz, so we can go all the way down to in a minute.


I'm still struggling with that. You can do all of that in a minute.


Yep, 12,000 samples per second seconds. So


what's what's, what's the pushback? I mean, what, how if I if I'm a wind farm owner, but what is it it? I mean, come on, there


is none. There is no pushback. I understand and in in the industry side in 2018, after Dr. Eshelman introduced me at the vibration is to it, I got up in front of the crowd and said, Sorry, folks, vibrations dead. So now we actually have some companies and partners, such as allied that are going through and retrofitting vibration equipment with electrical signature analysis. Oh, that


wasn't a well received. I know isn't that wonderful I was. I've been very fortunate I went, I've been to that event. And they're very passionate. They're very passionate about their vibration.


But since that time, about a third of the presentations are have added either motion amplification, or specifically on current signature and electrical signature. So the industry is adopting, it's matter of fact that the people that can look at and actually analyze the data will tend to be


vibration analysts. Well, yeah. And it makes sense cat whatever, for whatever three, yeah, data


collection, everybody thinks it's, it requires an electrician or an electrically trained person. That's for the data collection part, if you're going to manually do data collection, but actually analyzing the data, we're looking at amplitude versus frequency, just like with vibration,


it would seem to me that if I had a wind farm, and I had x amount of wind turbines, right. To have a clear health picture of those, each individual assets would seem to be pretty important.


It is absolutely. As a matter of fact, the other fun part about this, is we get to see the conditions of the electrical system, right. So we see power quality as well. I was just at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a few weeks back, talking to them about the fact that we have been identifying a resonance that occurs in the grid that everybody knows about, but they were unawares actually fatiguing the towers. So now we're starting down the research path of how to correct that at the grid level, so that we can extend the life of winter but fatiguing the tower. Oh, yeah, yikes. 1621 and 51 Hertz. See,


the hardest class I ever took was simple harmonics. There's no such thing as simple. No harmonics. It was a fallacy. Yeah, as a


matter of fact, in industry, we're doing a lot of work in ground and neutral harmonic distortion. We've been finding losses in plants ranging from about 10% of the total energy consumption out to one facility we did was 32%. How


the heck do you stay focused? What are you focused on at motor dock LLC? There he is right there with his shirt branded shirt,


I have no life.


Because it just seems like you're seems to me that you are you're just at the tip of the iceberg. There's just so much more well, that can be gleaned from this


my whole career, I've gone the wrong way if if other people don't want to go down a path and because it's difficult. I've done this since since the Navy, right? I ran motor repair shops on an aircraft carrier, we took on the stuff that nobody else wanted to take off and take on the important equipment that were normally being tossed over the side. We figured out how to do it. That was my team there. Then I went to a repair shop ran a field service group. Our job was take on anything and everything everybody else had to walk away from. And then when I was at the University of Illinois ran the Energy Resources Center and starting well, and part of that was because starting in 93, I worked with the Department of Energy, all the challenge programs. So during all that time, I was looking at the areas of research that people were walking away from because they were too complicated. Or they were too they weren't considered not popular. Everybody wants to be popular, right? So I went after the stuff that I knew to be done that nobody else wanted to do. So


how do they get a hold of you?


Moto Moto


doc. Tell me about that name a little bit moto Doc as I got the Moto. Yes, I got it. Yeah, Doc. Well,


back in the Navy, the captain of the Roosevelt. I was plank owner he goes I used to refer to us as rewind Gods when you ran the motor. Yeah. And I didn't like that as pretty religious at the time and he looks at me and he goes So in that case, you're the Moto doc and the name stuck.


There it is.


So Ph. D. K,


you absolutely wonderful. I really enjoyed this guy. And again, we just scratched the surface. I really appreciate your time. Here it is Marcus another time. Yeah, absolutely. Yes. Why wouldn't bleed? Absolutely. All right, you can tell we are on site. SMRP. The 31st 31st? Yes, it's 31. Yeah. 31/31 annual SMRP conference here in Orlando. Yeah. Put that on your calendar for next year. Let me just see if I understand there's a couple of events that you need to be aware of. You've got next year's. And that would be 32. That's the math. That's was 31. That'd be 32. Make sure that you put that on your calendar for next year, you're going to have all the contact information, as well as all of the information for next year's SMRP conference out on Industrial Talk, as well as you're going to have all the contact information for Howard because you need to connect with him. That is your call to duty. Right there. All right. We're gonna be right back with another great conversation. Stay tuned, we will be.


You're listening to the Industrial Talk Podcast Network.


Howard Penrose, that's his name. Your call to action is to connect with Howard. Find out more about what they're doing at motor dock. That just that was SMRP. That was in Orlando. That was a great show. Look for 30. To go out to Industrial Talk, we're going to have all the contact, or the links to 30 to SMRP 32nd Annual Conference must attend event. I say it all the time. You go out to Industrial Talk, there's a button. The button says hey, let's connect let's talk let's do whatever let's there's a there's an action, right. And because Industrial Talk is a platform for industrial professionals to amplify the voice, get that message out. You need to participate. You need to be a part of it. I make it as easy as possible. Click fill out a form real quick, simple form nothing fancy. And you'll be talking to me and see what we can do together to collaborate to get that message out. Be bold, be brave, dare greatly hang out with Howard. Change the world. We're gonna have another great conversation coming from SMRP shortly

Industrial Talk is onsite at SMRP 31 and talking to Howard Penrose, President at MotorDoc, LLC about "Condition monitoring wind turbines from the ground through innovative solutions".

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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