Third-party suppliers of parts and services for simple-cycle, cogeneration, and combined-cycle plants powered by gas turbines (GT) are critical to the success of asset owners struggling to turn a profit in the highly competitive electric generation business.
The ability of these vendors to create value for their customers was illustrated again last week with the announcement by PSM and Advanced Turbine Support of a collaborative bundling of GT services, from engine inspections through engineering assessments of indications to repairs. The last can include complete field service, and parts repair and/or replacement as required.
Jeff Benoit, PSM’s VP Business Development, and Mike Hoogsteden, Advanced Turbine Support’s Field Service Manager, told the editors during a telephone interview that the exclusive joint marketing and cooperation agreement between their respective companies covers the installed fleet of GE 7B-EA and 7F frames, as well as Siemens and Mitsubishi 501F turbines, throughout the Western Hemisphere. Opportunities for cooperation on these fleets in other parts of the world will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Benoit and Hoogsteden stressed that the arrangement compliments core strengths of the companies, specifically:
• Advanced Turbine Support’s expertise in the nondestructive examination of compressor, combustion, and turbine sections of gas turbines.
• PSM’s engineering know-how for evaluating inspection findings and making recommendations on possible courses of action. The company is well equipped to provide additional engineering analysis and support, as required, together with field/outage services and parts, if needed.
They said customers benefit from a true OEM-alternative capabilities package, one that includes the following:
• A seamless, complete offering for users requiring inspection reports, engineering assessments of findings, and/or third-party confirmation of findings.
• Aligned, experienced technical and service resources from both companies to ensure rapid response in the event of forced-outage situations.
• Innovative and cutting-edge inspection techniques.
• Global support on a 24/7 basis with 24- to 48-hr turnaround on inspection reports.
Another plus for users is the sharing of information across both organizations. Example: PSM engineers will be working with the Advanced Turbine Support inspectors to make them aware of the latest RCA (root cause analysis) findings—in some cases even before the OEMs communicate this information to their customers. This gives owners the assurance that Advanced Turbine Support will be inspecting their engines at the leading edge of industry knowledge, not just checking for issues published in customer alerts.
The partnership can be particularly beneficial to power producers with must-run engines because the integrated services network greatly compresses the schedule for any repairs that may be required following an inspection. The biggest beneficiaries typically would be companies looking for an OEM alternative or companies considered low priority by the OEM.
Here’s how the PSM and Advanced Turbine Support collaboration helped one customer and provided the catalyst for a formal cooperative agreement: Recall that Advanced Turbine Support urged its 7FA customers, about a year ago, to specify eddy-current inspections of compressor rows S0 and S1 when the company was onsite for scheduled inspections, because of airfoil cracking experienced by a couple of units in the fleet (a total of four leading-edge cracks have been found to date).
The horizontal crack shown in Fig 1 was found by technicians in a 7FA S1 vane at the 7 o’clock position. It was 2 in. long and 2 in. from the tip of the airfoil. In a matter of hours, an outage was recommended. PSM was asked to provide the field-service team and the parts to replace the complete vane row. This was done using the company’s 10-ring-segment solution (Fig 2).
Personnel and parts were onsite within the week and the new row of airfoils was installed the following week. There was no critical-path pressure on this assignment because the customer chose to do additional work on the peaking unit while the rotor was out of the unit. Follow-on borescope inspections since the unit was returned to service last spring have revealed no indications.
By way of background, Advanced Turbine Support offers a diversified portfolio of NDE methods for condition assessment of gas turbines and other powerplant equipment. It has 30 inspection specialists strategically located around the country and conducts more than 2000 inspections annually. The company’s Level III NDE certification and experience in ultrasonic, eddy current, liquid penetrant, magnetic particle, visual, and radiography allows it to establish techniques, to interpret codes, standards, and specifications, and to prepare or approve procedures and instructions in all of these technologies.
PSM, familiar to most readers, offers a complete range of capital parts, repairs, and field services for 7E, 7FA, and 501F engines, as well as performance upgrades for these machines. The company has under roof the independent technical and manufacturing development capabilities to address product issues and provide robust solutions quickly to the market transactionally or as part of long-term services agreements.
To learn more, visit either or both companies on the exhibit floor at the upcoming meetings of the 501F/501G, CTOTF, and 7F users groups.
Other alliances. There seems to be a trend developing among leading third-party providers to share expertise, grow market share, and compete more effectively against OEMs. You may recall the collaboration between First Independent Rotor Service of Texas (FIRST) and others, to provide third-party rotor end-of-life services on pre-F-class engines.
More recently, Donaldson Company Inc, best known in this industry for its gas-turbine air filters, announced an exclusive partnership with Precision Iceblast Corp to restore air-inlet houses, upgrade front end equipment (silencers, evaporative coolers, etc), and provide related outage services. Precision Iceblast is generally recognized for its CO2 blast technology, used most often in powerplants for cleaning finned tubes in heat-recovery steam generators.