Improving GT Availability

This month’s Power Engineering magazine highlights one of the best papers of the 2010 Power Gen Conference.

See page 54 in Power Engineering, February 2011.

The whole paper can be found at PowerGenWorldwide in PDF form.

The paper gives details around MHI’s experience with increasing the availability of the M501F, but the information could be extrapolated to apply to all industrial gas turbines, and other equipment as well.

The highlights of the paper include planning for gas turbine performance from four difference angles of attack:

  1. Design
  2. Scheduled Maintenance
  3.  OEM Support
  4. Continuous Monitoring

Better designs, which include planning for maintenance, can lead to less downtime.  Especially when the designs lead to increased part longevity.  Time between repairs and/or replacements is on the rise as better coatings and materials are available.

Using experienced crews and well-tested procedures for your scheduled maintenance can lead to shorter outages overall, so your plant can get back on line – or at least available to be on line – faster.

OEM support, especially for newer designs, can improve troubleshooting efforts and may lead to upgrades in parts or services which further reduce down time in the future – especially if the upgrade means a part can operate longer between inspections.

Continuous monitoring – my personal favorite – can lead to finding problems when they’re small, and fixing small problems with a short outage – instead of waiting to find big problems later, requiring extensions on major outages if additional parts need to be ordered.

Monitoring technology is improving every year.  Neural net, or “smart” software can learn how a plant operates, then detect small abnormalities before alarm limits – or even warning limits – are reached.  Expertise is still needed to find the source of the abnormalities and solutions for getting back to ‘normal’ – but overall these new systems are effectively reducing downtime – leading to significant improvements in equipment availability.

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