Plant Thermal Performance Services
Competition in today's utility environment has reached unprecedented levels. Government regulatory pressures, deregulation, together with an emerging force of Independent Power Producers have forced all producers of power to reexamine every aspect of their operations. No area of operation is more important than thermal performance. After all other aspects of plant operation and management have been optimized, the greatest single component of cost for most generating facilities is fuel cost. Optimizing thermal performance minimizes this cost. FCS is in a unique position to assist power producers in addressing this important issue.
THE FCS SOLUTION
FCS offers a range of services that can identify areas for efficiency improvement, help power producers to realize those improvements, and then maintain the plant at peak efficiency. These services can be applied to many different types of plants including conventional Rankine cycle plants, Combined Cycle plants, and Simple Cycle Gas Turbine powered plants. One objective of these services is to make our clients independent in maintaining a program for monitoring and maintaining thermal performance. The range of services that are offered includes the following:
FCS visits the plant and over a period of several days does a survey of the plant cycle and components. In this survey, the plant is physically 'walked down' to identify opportunities for performance improvement. Relevant engineering information such as acceptance tests, design data and performance testing/monitoring records, and procedures on major components is gathered for later analysis. Plant personnel are interviewed to identify concerns and problems that are relevant to the efficiency of the plant. This information is analyzed and a report is generated. This report, detailing findings, recommendations, and an implementation/action plan, is reviewed with appropriate plant management personnel. The objective of this review session is to assist plant management in finalizing (refining) an action plan that will result in improved plant performance.
An essential element of an effective program for the improvement and maintenance of plant thermal efficiency is performance testing. FCS can develop detailed procedures that are based upon recognized ASME Performance Test Codes and current industry practice. These procedures can be for high accuracy, infrequent testing, and for more frequent routine testing. Once procedures are developed, FCS can assist clients in actually performing the tests and developing performance test reports with analysis that will help to diagnose any problems that are identified. FCS can also recommend and help implement on-line performance monitoring systems.
Often, performance tests for new or refurbished equipment are included by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) under the scope of their contract. In these cases, FCS can act as the client's representative to review the OEM test procedure, monitor the conduct of the test, and provide an independent evalua-tion of the test results.
Performance Calculation Software
Much of the difficulty that many plant performance engineers have in developing and managing effective monitoring programs is the time required to reduce data and calculate test results to provide concise reporting to plant management that can be used to make decisions that will improve and maintain plant efficiency. FCS can develop software that reduces the time required for this important task. This software can be developed using commonly available and familiar software tools, such as Excel or Quattro spreadsheets or the Visual Basic and C programming languages. Extensive documentation is provided with the software to make it possible for plant personnel to understand the software and to make software modifications required when the plant and/or the performance testing procedures change.
Specific equipment problems can be analyzed by FCS performance experts with specific experience in operations, performance, and maintenance of a wide range of power plant equipment including steam turbines, gas turbines, boiler feed pumps, heat exchangers, fans, and compressors. Root cause analysis is stressed by FCS to assure that the cause of the problem, rather than just its effect, are identified and corrected to prevent recurrence of problems.
FCS can provide training for all personnel in the plant who can affect plant performance, from the plant management to the control room operators and maintenance personnel. FCS staff have developed and presented successful and effective training of this sort to thousands of people over the last 15 years. Typically, the training programs are from 3 to 5 days in duration and focus on how each member of the plant staff can improve plant performance. Past trainees have reported that training presented by FCS personnel has provided them with practical information that was immediately useful in improving plant performance.
Performance Monitoring Programs
While some clients may require assistance in only one or two of the areas described above, many clients have no effective program for monitoring and improving thermal performance. For such clients, addressing only one or two areas of thermal performance often results in little or no improvement in plant efficiency. This is because any effective program must address all relevant areas. The one area most frequently neglected is the plant personnel and organizational aspects of thermal performance. This is because many people fail to see that improving thermal performance is more than a hardware issue that is addressed by purchase of new test instrumentation and capital improvements in equipment.
FCS can develop a program that integrates the hardware issues with the people issues. The elements of an effective program typically include the following:
- Form a group that cuts across organizational lines to involve all plant personnel who affect plant efficiency to develop and monitor an overall performance improvement/monitoring plan.
- Develop a plan to improve and maintain plant thermal performance.
- Develop test procedures and monitoring systems:
- High accuracy testing that is done infrequently
- Routine testing done with a frequency that ranges from monthly to quarterly
- On-line system to provide plant operations and maintenance personnel with immediate feedback in real time on plant performance
- Training of the people who are responsible for implementing and maintaining that program.
- Follow-up assessment to assure that the goals for the program are being met.