Power Plant Control, Monitoring, and Diagnostics: Issue #1

Controls upgrades, retrofits a common theme across all gas-turbine user groups
Control systems age quickly and can become a liability in the competitive generation business in as few as seven years, according to one plant manager. Not long ago, when most powerplants were regulated-and before wind and solar generation were a factor in the generation mix-not much thought was given to a controls system replacement until the system was 10 to 15 years old. more 
SPECIAL REPORT: Fleet-wide M&D puts 'Big Data' into practice

A CCJ exclusive report by Jason Makansi, Pearl Street Inc.

Many large and mid-size utilities and independent generating companies have installed fleet-wide monitoring and diagnostics (M&D) centers (photo). While the practice began more than a decade ago, in many ways, it is now poised for even greater expansion, thanks to breathtaking growth and declining cost of backbone digital chip technology, cloud computing, wireless sensors, mobile and hand-held digital devices, and robust algorithms and analytics. more 


M&D Part 2: What's behind the dashboard; diagnostics and prognostics

Though you'll find a veritable suite of software applications from different vendors at the typical M&D center, the two "anchor tenants" are thermal performance monitoring and advanced pattern recognition (APR) to calculate efficiency and detect equipment anomalies and deviations. more

M&D Part 3: No 'big brother' here

One of the prevalent justifications for M&D center investments is a solution, at least a partial solution, to the "brain drain"-although the great recession probably has made this less of an issue. Management sees talented, experienced human resources spread across multiple plants, supported by advanced technology, as a means of reducing personnel costs without sacrificing, and hopefully improving, on standard performance metrics of efficiency and reliability. more

 M&D Part 4: A glimpse into the future
A smarter or less-capable operator really isn't the issue. Automating repetitive tasks through technology has always been a persistent driver of change and cost management in industry. Getting the right information to the right people at the right time is the issue. One need only understand that airline pilots are essentially trained today as overseers of the plane's automation system. more

Upgrade your mechanical 'bolt' with electronic overspeed protection

On legacy gas-turbine (GT) frames-such as Westinghouse 501B and 501D and GE Frame 5 and early 7B and 7E machines-backup overspeed protection is accomplished by a mechanical overspeed trip device. Mitch Cochran, principal, Process Control Solutions LLC, Hattiesburg, Miss, told the editors that the mechanical "bolt" is calibrated to trip when the centripetal force of the spinning shaft exceeds the allowable limit (usually 112% of rated speed). more 

LESSON LEARNED: Incorporate alarm management into the spec for your replacement control system
"Leaking" information here from one of the 2014 Best Practices Awards entries, now in judging, can be justified in the minds of the editors because of its importance to owner/operators considering control-system replacements and upgrades for their gas turbines-a recurring theme in this special issue of CCJ ONsite. more
Troubleshooting W501 control instabilities, spurious trips
Mitch Cochran, principal, Process Control Solutions LLC, Hattiesburg, Miss, an independent DCS consultant specializing in WDPF/Ovation™ controls for W501 gas turbines and frequent participant in user-group meetings, is respected by many owner/operators for his problem-solving abilities-such as those contributing to success at Altura Cogen, Clark Generating Station, and EcoElectrica, among others. Recently, Cochran sat down with the editors to share some entries in his field-service logbook. more
Combined-cycle plants looking for operators
What better platform for getting the word out on open positions for qualified control room operators and technicians than a CCJ ONsite dedicated to controls? Both Star West Generation's Griffith Energy in Golden Valley, Ariz, and Exelon Power's Quail Run Energy Center in Odessa, Tex, have opportunities available, both posted here within the last couple of weeks. more

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