Liburdi, GCMS launch users group for Alstom gas turbines

Goal of the inaugural Alstom Gas Turbine Owner’s Conference, organized and sponsored by Liburdi Turbine Services Inc, Mooresville, NC, and Global Consulting and Mechanical Services (GCMS) LLC, Hughes Springs, Tex, held Feb 26 – 27, 2018 in Charlotte, NC, was to review maintenance solutions and strategies pertaining to the repair, service, and maintenance of Alstom engines.

The meeting featured presentations from leading independent turbine maintenance services providers, as well as open discussions among end users, who comprised most of the attendance. As stated by the organizers, “the purpose is to provide participants with information that will help them make informed maintenance decisions and negotiate better service contracts.” The ultimate goal is to increase reliability and control costs in these challenging market conditions.

Jeff Chapin, Liburdi’s manager of power-generation business development, opened the meeting and welcomed attendees from as far as Australia and Singapore. “These can be scary times for the industry,” he said. “We all need maintainability and reliability, and we have the best chance of accomplishing this by working together.”

EPRI’s Rob Steele continued with the theme. “Collaboration is key,” he said, having just returned from similar discussions in Europe. “We need to look for opportunities within this new sense of madness.”

Steele discussed EPRI’s Gas Turbine Overhaul Plans® that include specific gas-turbine repair guidelines. “We are looking carefully at what is happening worldwide, who is doing what, who is making parts, and where these parts are coming from,” he explained.

Bullet points that follow, compiled from presentations on the first day of the conference by CCJ Consulting Editor Steve Stultz, offer insights into the content and character of the meeting. Abstracts of these and other presentations will appear in the next issue. To place your name on the Alstom Owner’s mailing list, write Chapin at

    • Chris Hutson, Georgia Power Co, offered an owner’s perspective. He was followed by Andy Smoak of GCMS, who listed and categorized the company’s gas-turbine field services.

    • Malcolm Hubbard, ep3 LLC, a former plant manager, spoke about outage options and opportunities from a software and best-practices perspective. “Today’s best practice is tomorrow’s yesterday’s news,” he said. Hubbard also stressed that the best process improvement comes from “simplification.”

    • Matija Kolonic, Inpirio, discussed the manufacturing of structural parts, together with Liburdi, and offered an extended conversation on the art of reverse engineering, when required. He showed improved hot-pressing processes at his firm, colorfully explaining that “We are engineers; we like shiny hot stuff!”

    • Dr. Lyle Branagan, Pioneer Motor Bearing Co, addressed the range of reasons for damage and repair of fluid-film bearings, beginning with a clear visual representation of protection physics. “Hydrodynamic lubrication,” he explained, “is not unlike hydroplaning in an automobile,” putting it in more common terms. Pioneer conducted an optional tour for attendees the following day, demonstrating their full repair capabilities.

    • Doug Muennich, Turbo Filtration Corp, explained turbine-oil varnish detection and resolution. He presented a bring-it-home description: “looking at turbine oil is like looking at human blood, to see what might be wrong.” Varnish, he explained, is a soft contaminant that has come out of solution over time. His presentation featured solubility enhancement technology which can, in a sense, “turn the oil into a cleaner.”

    • Liburdi’s Rob Rowland discussed the repair of large components, with a focus on the hot section. He concluded with a video presentation of a plasma-spray coating process.

    • Gary Hughes, Hughes Technical Services LLC, went into detail on inspections and upgrade opportunities, including control system upgrades and control system parts.

    • Werner Arnold, managing director of the Arnold Group, described his company’s single-layer insulation system available for all Alstom gas and steam turbines, which allows improved access to the turbine and better insulation function. He stressed the need for an easy handling support system of the single layer insulation system, including step protection for maintenance tasks. Arnold concluded by describing a turbine warming system for steam turbines, an electrical heating system that can reduce issues associated with cycling operations to increase the efficiency and income.

Brian Vokal, Midland Cogen Ventures, wrapped up Day One, explaining in part the impetus for this inaugural session. “We need to share our experiences, and perhaps our frustrations, through networking opportunities such as this to remind ourselves that we are not the ‘forgotten fleet’ [of Alstom gas turbines].” Discussions then led to options and ideas to further enhance the Alstom Owners’ network, including improved knowledge of each other’s material inventories.

The second day offered two options for all attendees. The first was a full-day workshop on gas-turbine metallurgy and repair technologies, directed at personnel in the gas processing and power generation industries. Douglas Nagy, P.Eng and Manager, IGT Components Repair of Liburdi Turbine Services instructed the workshop. The agenda offered a wide range of topics, including the following: 

1. Industry trends and the benefits of parts repair and refurbishment.

2. A review of gas-turbine components, materials, operating modes, and maintenance intervals.

3. Materials and metallurgy—including superalloys, compositions, and properties.

4. Typical gas-turbine coatings: anti-corrosion, wear surface, and thermal barrier.

5. Degradation modes and their effects on gas-turbine components.

6. Component evaluation.

7. Procedures and techniques to restore components to industry standards.

8. Quality assurance methods and procedures.

9. Vendor selection and verification.

10. Case studies and problem solving.

11. Roundtable discussions on repair trends.

The workshop, which also included several case studies, concluded with participants developing specific component repair programs.

The second option featured tours of two North Carolina facilities: Pioneer Motor Bearing in Kings Mountain and Liburdi Turbine Services in Mooresville.

Upon closing of the conference, a steering committee was appointed. Brian Vokal of Midland Cogen Ventures and Chris Hutson of Southern Company will be representing owner/operators and Jeff Chapin of Liburdi representing the solution providers. First order of business: Users requested Liburdi and GCMS commit to hosting a second conference that is now set for February 25-March 1, 2019 in Charlotte, NC. The exact location and agenda to follow.

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