7EA Users Group annual meeting rapidly approaching; Register today!

If you’re an owner or operator of one or more GE B-EA frame engines and have not yet registered for the 7EA Users Group’s 2017 conference and vendor fair, October 24 – 26 at the World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort, there’s no better time than now. 

No budget is no excuse for a learning experience second to none. With food included in the $250 registration fee, the participation cost for most users will be less than $1000. It’s virtually impossible to attend and not come away with an idea that will return 10-fold on that personnel-development investment over the next year.

The meeting agenda posted on the user group’s website identifies nearly three-dozen subject matter experts from generating plants and third-party product/service providers plus several speakers from the OEM on GE Day (Tuesday).

The conference will start, as it has for the last several years, with Advanced Turbine Support LLC’s not-to-miss “What We Are Seeing in the Fleet from Our Borescope Inspections.” This presentation by Mike Hoogsteden, director of field services, alone may be worth the registration fee—particularly for first-timers.

How else are you going to learn what’s going on in the fleet and what to look for during inspection and maintenance outages? Most users are “land-locked” in their plants and with the significant turnover in personnel these days a knowledge vacuum is created. Break it by getting out and listening to presentations by experts on the front lines and meeting others dealing with the same challenges as you.

CCJ ONsite editors called Hoogsteden for a preview of his presentation. Here are some major topics he is planning to speak about:

      • Clashing. If this term is unfamiliar to you, meeting attendance should be “mandatory.” Most 7EAs in peaking or standby service have reported R1/S1 clashing—that is, contact between S1 stator vane tips and R1 rotor-blade roots—during operation.

The editors believe Advanced Turbine Support’s technicians were the first in the industry to blow the whistle on clashing (2006). Within two years the company was performing visible dye-penetrant inspections to characterize the damage and a year later it was taking measurements for trending.

In 2011, Advanced Turbine Support was comfortable sharing data that pointed to an increase in damage from clashing year-over-year. With owner/operator concerns ramping up, it introduced eddy current inspections to identify cracks too fine to bleed penetrant and to better clarify the damage identified.

Technical Information Letter 1884 was issued by GE in 2013. Why TIL 1884 is important: Damage from clashing, which had been characterized solely by wear and tear on the trailing edges of rotor blades near their platforms and on the leading edges of adjacent stator vanes at their tips, now also may include cracks in vanes a few inches from the bottom of the airfoil in the middle of the convex side—the so-called area of concern.

In 2014, Advanced Turbine Support identified cracks in five vanes with penetrant and eddy-current inspections. Also in 2014, inspectors found an S1 stator vane tip had been liberated. This area is not addressed in TIL 1884.A year later it reported cracks in 166 vanes using eddy current.

The point of the foregoing is to illustrate that history is important to your success as an O&M technician, supervisor, or manager. If you don’t understand what has happened in the past and how to avoid it, the probability of re-inventing a problem increases. You get the necessary history at user-group meetings.

      • TIL 1854, issued in 2012, recommended R2 and R3 rotor-blade blending and tipping to mitigate impact on availability and reliability caused by tip loss. It does not address R1 tips, nor does it recommend in-situ inspections. Hoogsteden will remind attendees that R1-R3 rotor-blade tip distress is most commonly caused by rubs against the case during operation. The evidence: tip discoloration or a heat-affected zone, and/or rolled metal.

That in-situ inspections are not recommended in the latest version of TIL 1854 that the editors have contradicts logic. Hoogsteden said that in round numbers the company’s technicians have identified more than 50 cracked rotor blades and more than 25 blade tip liberations in over 750 in-situ dye-penetrant inspections since 2009.

      • Variable inlet guide vanes. Somewhat similar to the rotor-blade tip distress discussed above, Advanced Turbine Support has identified VIGV inner-barrel rubs across the E- and F-class fleets that have resulted in rolled metal on the vanes, rub marks on the rub rings, and cracks in the vanes at the inner barrel. Cracks in the vanes have been identified with and without visible rub marks on the rub ring, Hoogsteden told the editors.

TIL 2049, discussing inner-barrel VIGV rubs within the F-class fleet, has been issued by the OEM and recommends performing dye-penetrant inspections on affected vanes.

Advanced Turbine Support recommends greater conservatism, suggesting dye-pen inspections on both E- and F-class VIGVs at the first opportunity. Further, it believes X-Gap clearance inspections should be performed when rub marks are identified. In-situ blending is possible in some situations when indications are found and X-Gap clearances are not met.

      • TIL 1562, on vane shims, issued in 2007, and TIL 1744 on S17 and exit-guide-vane dovetail wear, issued in 2010, also will be reviewed.

Two special roundtables—one on bus duct, the other on rotor life—are on the 2017 7EA Users Group conference agenda.

Guy LeBlanc of First Energy Corp will chair the electrical roundtable with participation from Jesus Davila, RMS Energy Co; Gary Whitehead, Electrical Builders Inc; Jonathan Murray, Emerson Automation Solutions; and Bruce Hack of Crown Electric Engineering & Manufacturing LLC.

The rotor life roundtable, chaired by Tracy Dreymala of EthosEnergy Group, will feature participation by these companies: Veracity Technology Solutions, FIRST/TBS, NRG Energy Services, MD&A, Superbolt Inc, Independent Turbine Consulting, and Sulzer Turbo Services Houston Inc.

Important numbers. If you haven’t yet impressed the C-suite on the value of the 7EA Users Group conference, try numbers. Here’s hard data from last year’s meeting compiled by the steering committee. The 2017 numbers should be about the same.

    • 103 user attendees with the following cumulative experience in user-years:

        • Operations, 411.

        • Mechanical, 528.

        • I&E, 129.

        • Balance of plant, 53.

        • Controls, 131.

        • Plant management (O&M, operations, etc), 602.

    • 117 vendors.

    • Eight countries represented.

    • 18 user discussion topics.

    • 11 user presentations.

    • 17 vendor presentations.

    • Eight OEM presentations.

Steering committee

Syed Mehdi Ali, GM operations, Karachi Electric Supply Co
Dale Anderson, CT technician foreman, East Kentucky Power Co-op Inc
Tracy Dreymala, facility manager, San Jacinto Peakers, EthosEnergy Group
Ronald Eldred, plant manager, Rosemary Power Station, Dominion
Bob Grave, lead O&M technician, DTE Energy
Mirza Hossain, plant engineer, TransAlta Corp
Michael Johnson, powerplant supervisor, Turlock Irrigation District
Guy LeBlanc, supervisor, Consolidated CT Plants, First Energy Corp
Tony Ostlund, combustion turbine technician, Puget Sound Energy
Doug Reves, outage coordinator, Arkansas Electric Co-op Corp
Randall Rieder, mechanical engineer, ATCO Power
Mike Vonallmen, maintenance supervisor, Clarksdale Public Utilities
Lane Watson, account engineer, FM Global

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