SmartMolen digital monitoring
Windmills are vulnerable to storm damage (particularly from side-winds and tail-winds) though risks are mitigated by ensuring that Sweeps are aligned towards the wind. The Fantail mechanism catches any side-wind and, through a system of gears causes the mill body to rotate, ensuring the alignment is continuous, however, in certain circumstances this can fail, leaving a mill vulnerable. Physical monitoring can be difficult due to the limited availability of personnel and the remoteness of locations.
Jill is taking part in a technology trial, aimed at monitoring windmill movement with digital compasses. The objectives of the trial are to test the compass devices and underlying software in a broad range of conditions, to confirm the reliability of the devices and of the data transmission technology and to identify and fix any bugs, so as to improve and enhance the software features, based on feedback from the trial participants as well as from windmill experts and enthusiasts.
The digital monitoring system takes frequent compass bearings of the direction of the Sweeps and compares these to wind direction, both actual and forecast. The alignment of the Sweeps towards the wind is monitored and alerts are issued, if a risk is perceived, by means of text messages to nominated contacts. At our request, alerts will be sent should the temperature exceed a specified threshold.
The Live Dashboard page shows the live Sweep direction and current wind conditions in both graphical and data formats, supplemented by a weather forecast at six-hourly intervals for the following three days.
Wind directions are shown by arrows, which are colour-coded to show the level of threat.
The Analysis page provides further analysis of the data captured. The three displays show an analysis of the wind speed and direction at the site since the installation of the equipment, a graph comparing wind direction with Sweep direction over the preceding 30 days and an analysis of the observed movement in relation to both the speed and angle of the wind.
This project is one of a series of undertakings supporting the restoration of Upminster Windmill. In addition to Jill and Upminster, the system is being trialled at Wilton, Polkey’s, Stock and Fulwell windmills. Additional monitoring equipment has been installed at some the these mills to record the RPM of turning Sweeps and Fans and well as advising whether the Brake is on or off.
The full dashboard and analysis can be viewed here.
Below, ( technology permitting !! ), is the live SmartMolen data for Jill Windmill.