Aercoustics has acted as an acoustic design and noise and vibration control specialist for more than 40 years. The company’s expert acoustic consultants are passionate about sound engineering and delivering innovative solutions to their customers, to whom Aercoustics makes the promise of bringing “outrageous success” – a company credo and commitment. Aercoustics’ particularity is that it is not retained by any government body and acts fully independently as a third party, performing tests on behalf of the developers and offering the tools and guidance for accreditation purposes.
Wind turbines are complex technologies that require close monitoring of all development processes, from design to operation. They are expected to provide high levels of environmentally friendly energy efficiently with minimal impact to their surroundings in terms of vibration and noise pollution. Turbine installations are also subject to stringent regulations and certification requirements, challenging wind energy professionals to find the right testing equipment that provides accurate and reliable noise and vibration assessment. Onshore wind turbines, for example, must comply with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61400-11 standard, which quantifies the acceptable emitted sound levels.
Aercoustics Engineering Limited is the first and only organization in Canada to secure this accreditation for noise testing of wind turbines and is also one of a handful of companies worldwide with this expertise. Though the company was already using the Simcenter testing solutions from Siemens Digital Industries Software for measurement, Aercoustics was conducting customized complex data analysis in accordance with the IEC standard after its field tests were completed. After discussions about the challenges of the new edition 3, Aercoustics collaborated with Siemens Digital Industries Software to develop a solution that streamlines the noise measurement and analysis process specifically for the wind turbine industry.
The IEC 61400-11 international standard is meant to provide a uniform test procedure and methodology that brings consistency and accuracy across the wind power industry. However, conducting the tests for edition 3 generates a large amount of data that cannot easily be processed in the field. Engineers taking onsite measurements cannot crunch the data in real time to ensure they have all the information needed before leaving the site. Incomplete data can mean a return trip to a remote turbine location or cause a project delay.
Aercoustics wanted a system that combined good data management and real-time processing power to get numbers right away – something which the in-house developed Matlab® environment or programs that utilize Excel® spreadsheet software could not perform. The solution came with Simcenter Testlab software. For Aercoustics, having a tool that could provide the post-analysis data in real-time was invaluable to its engineers working in the field. For Siemens Digital Industries Software, working with an accredited IEC partner helped deliver a solution that provided accurate and valid information of the sound power curves and tonality results.
“This was a rare opportunity for us to work with one of our customers to develop a product for a specific industry,” notes Siemens Digital Industries Software’s product development and deployment manager for the project. “Aercoustics is a recognized leader in the wind industry, and having access to their engineering expertise provided us the right feedback and insight to create a module that can make noise measurements easier to gather and calculate.
Being able to say that an IEC 61400-11 accredited company uses the product is invaluable.”
“We immediately saw the value of working with Siemens Digital Industries Software in partnership to develop a program that met our needs while adhering to the very strict IEC edition 3 standards,” says Steve Titus, president and chief executive officer (CEO), Aercoustics. “Wind turbine noise is a sensitive issue and supplying trusted, high-quality and unbiased technical measurements to customers is of the utmost importance. By providing our engineering field expertise, Siemens Digital Industries Software received invaluable feedback to make a solution that is tailored to the standards of the wind turbine industry. It was the perfect combination of expertise and personnel to deliver a high-quality product.”
Siemens Digital Industries Software provided a beta version of the specific Simcenter Testlab software solution to Aercoustics to get realtime feedback and determine how to optimize it for the engineers in the field. Combining the coding expertise of Siemens Digital Industries Software with the engineering experience of Aercoustics resulted in a solution that was tested and approved to work in the field.
“The IEC edition 3 standard has specific acquisition requirements in the field and we wanted a tool that would move our analysis further upstream so that we would be more efficient with our time on each project,” explains Payam Ashtiani, principal and lead on renewables, Aercoustics. “Being able to analyze the data more quickly means we have less back-and-forth between departments, less data transfers and fewer errors. Now the engineers can see more accurate measurements in the field and determine if they have enough data or if they need more right away.”
Noise and vibration engineers in the wind turbine industry face similar challenges. They need to collect large amounts of data and provide an accurate analysis to their customers. Aercoustics wanted to reduce the time spent collecting data in the field as well as in analyzing the data sets. By making the process more efficient, the company can better deliver results to its customers and focus engineering time on projects.
“The Simcenter Testlab environment provided us with an opportunity to test the solution for the wind industry to confirm that we had a program that delivers quality data and validation,” explains Titus. “For Aercoustics, the Simcenter Testlab environment is not just a one-time, isolated investment. We use the software extensively for other projects in conjunction with the Simcenter SCADAS Mobile hardware to cover a variety of wind turbine tests.”
The different Simcenter hardware modules in the basic systems provide the freedom to use numerous sensors depending on the application. For bigger tests that require a greater amount of data, Aercoustics uses a master-slave configuration for its Simcenter SCADAS systems, connecting individual frontends to one big frame.
“The use of Simcenter Testlab with Simcenter SCADAS Mobile was surprising for us, given how fast and easy our team started to work with it,” Titus says. “For a company of our size, it is rare to make such a large investment in data acquisition systems, but this has proven very positive for us. The Simcenter platform has significantly expanded our capabilities in noise and vibration measurement and analysis so we are leveraging this as a competitive advantage.”
Aercoustics has already used the Simcenter testing solutions to perform more than 100 tests for turbine manufacturers in the research and development (R&D) field, wind farm developers and operators across North America.