Focus on Reliability and Performance to Drive Competitive Advantage

A common power industry theme at the 2020 Ovation Users’ Group Conference has been the many challenges organizations experience in a shifting environment. The need for maintaining reliability and compliance and avoiding obsolescence remain, yet organizations also face new complexity. Power generators are juggling an additional set of requirements associated with high utilization, daily cycling operation, and the need to be competitive in the market in order to get dispatched.

Maintain focus on machinery health

To maintain the performance levels necessary to stay competitive, organizations must first be confident in their asset reliability. Jason King, Emerson’s machinery health solutions manager, spoke directly to this need.

From the outside, it’s mostly not obvious what’s going on inside a gas, steam, or hydro turbine unless there’s a huge problem. So, we need instruments that continuously monitor vibration and other machinery health parameters to make sure we aren’t causing any undue stress on the machine.

Balance, for example, is an essential protection and condition monitoring value. While a high vibration alert by itself can be helpful, seeing a change in the machine balance engages operators and maintenance much earlier in the failure process by providing a much clearer picture of what is happening inside a turbine.

Jason also explored other rotating equipment mechanical wear issues that can rapidly progress if not quickly identified such as eccentricity, differential expansion, and shaft alignment. An issue that doesn’t cause a trip today can still be serious enough to generate damage to a shaft or rotors that may be expensive and time consuming to repair down the line. Because many power organizations don’t have the analytics staff on hand to easily diagnose these issues,

we built protection and condition monitoring into the Ovation Machinery Health Monitor that provides operators with a better understanding of developing conditions.

Ovation calculates essential values for a piece of rotating equipment and sends operators a smart alert that describes the issue. Operators and maintenance can respond to an alert by trending multiple key values together to correlate data and make decisions about next steps and can even perform advanced machinery analysis using personalized dashboards on AMS Machine Works.

Technology drives better performance

In the face of tighter margins, fewer staff, and expansion of renewables, units are being asked to behave in a more dynamic manner than they ever have in the past. This change is placing more demand on how automation systems perform in response to increased cycling operations. James Nyenhuis, manager of performance consulting for Emerson, shared how power organizations are using technology to meet this need.

Dynamic operation, James explains, changes the transmission of energy into and out of the plant process more quickly but still

requires consistent steam temperature into turbines, constrained by the thermal limits of piping and other equipment to maintain maximum efficiency.

Managing these energy transitions can be challenging for traditional PID-based control. As a result, plants are looking at new technologies that offer fundamental ways to better manage control. Many organizations are switching to advanced process control  applications to better manage operations in real time. Model-based strategies improve control performance and robustness by predictively steering through transient events.

James shared one of the key reasons plants are adopting this approach by leveraging their existing control system,

Ovation provides the foundation to quickly bring a solution like this online. It can be done without an outage and can quickly begin bringing benefits.

James also explained where we are heading with new technologies and how a live digital twin can run a simulation of the process in tandem with the real one. This solution creates a virtual sensing capability for the bypass flow rate allowing users to develop a real-time control strategy that provides better dynamic performance than was previously possible.

The competition emerging in the industry is driving power generators to examine the advantages of advanced control, and as they do so, they’re discovering benefits they hadn’t initially anticipated.

Conference Continues Through Aug. 27

The Ovation Users’ Group Conference resumes August 26 and 27 with expert-led industry sessions focused on the water and wastewater segments.

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