The 2020 Digital Conference hosted by the 7F Users Group was the first web-based annual meeting conducted by a user group serving owner/operators of gas-turbine-powered simple- and combined-cycle generating plants in the US. Most of nearly 700 registered users believed the 13-day event, conducted over five weeks from June 16 through July 16, exceeded expectations.
Technical content provided by the OEM, summarized here, was well-organized and thorough (given time constraints), with several dozen very capable managers and engineers from GE Gas Power and FieldCore making presentations, participating in discussions, and answering questions from wherever they were located—in offices, in homes, and at jobsites.
Tom Freeman, chief customer consultant for GE Gas Power-Americas, coordinated the OEM’s program and was always on the ready to answer questions, fill an informational divot, provide background on speakers and discussion topics, etc.
Highlights of information incorporated into the OEM’s presentations follows. It is intended to provide a “flavor” of the broad range of topics addressed so you know what slides/videos posted on GE’s myDashboard website you might want to access for a deeper dive. The link for GE users to register or sign into myDashboard is: registration.gepower.com/registration/. Think of the CCJ summaries as a “TV Guide” for the web—a shortcut to material of interest.
Opening remarks, Day Three, June 18
GE’s first appearance at the event was on third and final day of the Week One program. The theme of the OEM’s opening remarks was “Looking Forward to the Last 30 Years.” Alvaro Anzola, VP of combined cycle services for the Americas, opened the program with a historical technical review of the 7FA. The first F-class gas turbine, rated 147 MW at a firing temperature of 2300F, began commercial operation at Vepco’s (now Dominion) Chesterfield Power Station in June 1990.
A timeline highlighting significant events in the life of this frame—including DLN-2.0 in 1993, OpFlex solutions in 2004, Advanced Gas Path in 2009, etc—is a great slide for testing your memory. It and all of the other GE presentations are available on-demand on myDashboard. An interesting statistic from Anzola’s presentation: GE deployed more than 5400 upgrades to the fleet from 2011 through 2019 to reduce emissions and/or to increase efficiency, reliability, output, and operational flexibility.
A special presentation, “Quantifying the Value of Flexibility,” by Professor Mort Webster and others from Penn State’s Dept of Energy and Mineral Engineering, followed. If you’re an asset manager, or have responsibility for generator scheduling and dispatch, consider retrieving this presentation. It discusses the system dynamics that determine how a unit might be dispatched with features added to improve flexibility—such as higher maximum output, lower minimum output, faster ramping, faster startup—and the financial benefits of these improvements.
State-of-the-fleet presentations at user-group meetings typically keep attendee eyes glued to the screen. No different at this conference. Diane Beagle, GM of global product service, and engineering leaders Brian Moran, a GT expert and Josh Sater, a plant systems expert, compiled stats of interest to the group and reviewed hot topics in the fleet.
Example: F-class starting reliability data from Strategic Power Systems Inc’s ORAP information system shows GE at 98.9% each year from 2016 through 2019 (except for 98.7% in 2018)—about half a percentage point ahead of the aggregate industry results that include the GE data. A poll of the attendees revealed that the leading causes of failed starts were valves (23%), controls (22%), and instrumentation (20%).
Also according to ORAP data, GE’s F-class reliability (includes gas turbine, generator, and station equipment) outpaced the competition from 2016 through 2019, averaging more than 97.9% to the industry’s 97.4% (including GE). When queried about the equipment responsible for most forced-outage days, users put instrumentation (29%) and transformers (19%) at the top of their lists.
Moran addressed these three “hot” topics in his presentation:
- DLN-2.6+ effusion plant cracking.
- Stator 5 root cause analysis.
- Flared enhanced compressor.
The first examined cracks between the center and outer fuel nozzles found in effusion plates with laser- and EDM-drilled holes after about 3000 hours of operation. Thermal strains from cycling were said to drive crack propagation along the high-heat-affected zones. Corrective action: Replace cracked caps with in-kind replacements until validation tests of a new TBC-coated effusion plate are complete—possibly by year-end.
The Row 5 RCA confirmed that the flared-7F events experienced in the fleet require “increased risk factors” for crack initiation—and that new and clean stator vanes have significant fatigue margin. Moran told attendees that the following issues could reduce fatigue margin: corrosion pitting, heavy tip rubs, FOD/DOD, and compressor surges. An elevated response would be caused by vane lock-up and loss of damping as well as heavy tip rubs.
Moran closed with a discussion on enhanced 7F flared compressor options, reviewing the features associated with Packages 2, 2+, 3, 4, and 5. He also discussed the enhancements for Rows S14-S16, reviewing both the “Big Foot” and “Little Foot” mods. You may recall that the advantage of the latter is that no casing machining is necessary and the work typically is completed in four days.
Sater spoke after Moran, focusing on the programs for the dedicated breakout sessions aggregated under a “Transforming a Mature Fleet” banner and scheduled four weeks hence in Week Five. Check out Sater’s slides covering safety, maintenance, forced-outage mitigation, and outage considerations on myDashboard to gain access to materials of interest.
FieldCore, Day Eight, July 2
FieldCore Day was divided into the following four segments, each of which can be accessed by registered users on myDashboard:
- Opening remarks and state of FieldCore.
- 7F landscape/update and best practices.
- Houston Learning Center and training.
- Delivering capability.
The first recorded video features opening remarks by FieldCore President/CEO Amir Hafzalla (02:30), who introduced his company as Gas Power’s field services arm, characterizing the business unit as “acting with humility, leading with transparency, and delivering with focus.” It is GE, he said. Hafzalla stressed his goals of continuous improvement, safety, quality, and integrity. Note that the numbers in parentheses throughout the FieldCore segment are the times where the persons identified begin their presentations. This should help you access quickly the information of greatest interest.
Brad Hilt (13:00), managing director, GE Gas Power Services, began by reliving what he learned from customers at last year’s 7F conference regarding field-service performance. Customers, in general, were not “happy campers.” Hilt explained how the company has addressed, and is continuing to address, the feedback received. Here are a few of the actions taken:
- Driving accountability, clear communication, and aligned roles/responsibilities for better customer outcomes.
- Shifting of the outage planning process from reactive to proactive.
- Building EHS and quality consistency into outage planning and execution.
Hilt then reviewed preliminary results from the performance-improvement effort. He listed several complimentary sound bites from surveys conducted recently by GE. Access the presentation and see if you agree. A survey of participants in the 7F meeting revealed that nearly half of the respondents believed the GE outage team performed noticeably or slightly better in the last year than previously. Roughly 30% checked “about the same.”
The 7F landscape/update and best practices segment brought users up to date on FieldCore’s achievements and introduced owner/operators to the service company’s key personnel. Mort Smith (00:00), GM of the FieldCore service team in North America, spoke first, summarizing key takeaways and experience from work conducted in the first half of 2020—including improving job quality and a safety record second to none. Ryan Hooley (07:00) of GE Gas Power was next, discussing the company’s Covid-19 response and outage management. He said Gas Power executed 134 major events during the six-month period with no significant safety (Level A/B) or operational implications.
Underpinning this success was the creation of more than 15 procedures and protocols specific to
Covid-19 safety, site execution, and preparedness. Plus, the prompt communication of changes to protocols, suspected and confirmed cases, best practices, and emerging risks.
Jeremy Williams (11:00), North American quality director for FieldCore, traced the continuing improvement in field-service work by the company. He pointed to the following 2017-2019 results: 35% reduction in “severe” events and a 40% reduction in customer lost-generation days. Credited were increased defect capture, aligned audit program, and increased leadership engagement around planning, resourcing, and execution.
Several Covid-19 solutions and best practices were integrated into this portion of the Day Eight program to illustrate employee commitment to better outcomes and customer support. The first “Covid Heroes” film clip showed Service Manager Matt Wallace’s (13:10) success in producing large numbers of small plastic bottles of a foaming hand sanitizer for use by field personnel. Field Engineer Brian Manzo (14:50) then presented for a few minutes on a 7F outage excellence solution involving a well-stocked 8-ft conex container, complete with tools and spare parts for a given job.
Brian Yu, US West region outage manager, (22:40) illustrated the value of a partial LOTO, whereby getting fuel gas and CO2 on LOTO as soon as possible allows field-service personnel to complete critical-path tasks in the compartment that normally would wait for a full LOTO. The obvious benefit is reduced outage time.
Yu next presented a best practice on a single-shift outage (23:50) piloted during a 7FA hot-gas-path inspection. It required about 14 shifts LOTO to LOTO instead of about 24 shifts (total of day and night shifts). Value to the customer included no plant support required at night, the inherent safety of not doing critical lifts at night, etc. No safety recordables or first aids were reported and there were no quality misses. There were several considerations an adopter of this best practice should be aware of. Get those details by accessing the recorded presentation on myDashboard.
In the final portion of the segment, Jeremiah Smedra, US West & Canada region manager (25:50), discussed progress on a so-called “event equation and standard work” introduced at the 2019 meeting. The equation: Success = Planning + People (field engineer + craft) + Customer Interface + Execution + Closeout. The presentation was delivered in two parts, separated by a short Covid Hero clip featuring Bayo Akomolafe (30:10) making 3D-printed face shields. If you recall the event equation and would like an update, access the recorded presentation.
The Houston Learning Center (HLC) and training video is fast-moving, answering many questions plant and maintenance managers likely have about FieldCore’s capabilities and offerings. Examples: How are FieldCore’s personnel trained? What are HLC’s capabilities? Can HCL train plant personnel in addition to GE/FieldCore personnel?
The first portion of the program, “The Training Center as a Competitive Advantage,” (00:20) takes you through the facility, which is equipped with the latest tools and a 7FA engine and is staffed by instructors with field-engineering experience. Trainees are taught how to lift casings, remove/replace bolting, etc, using the actual tools they would have in the field.
Rob Randall, FieldCore’s technical training director, began his presentation (08:45) noting that GE invests $50 million annually in the training center and its programs. The mission: “First time right.” The company’s strategy is to build and maintain a multi-faceted, highly capable workforce (11:20), blending college graduates, experienced hires, and internal promotions into a cohesive field-service team.
Specialized training is developed and conducted for specific tasks to ensure field work meets expectations. One such program described by Jim Rosen (19:15), HLC training director, concerned how to change-out first-stage buckets in 7HA gas turbines to meet an urgent fleet need. Everyone who would be involved in this work gained the knowledge required hands-on at HLC.
There was a timeout for a short Covid Heroes clip on how Ben Gilder (23:50), attached to the West Region, worked with a local distillery to product hand sanitizer for field-service crews.
The next segment (25:12) discussed competencies and managing them. It focused on driving consistency in the workforce by defining expectations down to the task level. A robust system is in place to track progress and personnel capabilities. Expectation is this will contribute to optimal crew selection for specific assignments.
A live Q&A session (28:00) followed with Randall, Rosen, and FieldCore Technical Competency Director Stephen Simmons participating.
The final prepared remarks (30:55) concerned flexible, custom-tailored training solutions available to meet the total plant needs of owner/operators. Currently, the GE/FieldCore training “engine” delivers about 1800 courses annually to 7500 customers in more than 50 countries.
Delivering capability begins with an overview of FieldCore’s “Covid-19 prevention field procedure” (00:50), a living document which continues to evolve based on experience. The final Covid Heroes segment of the day followed with Field Engineer Chad Locke (03:20) describing a sanitation upgrade—more specifically, a five-position bathroom trailer complete with hot running water.
FieldCore’s John Millacci (05:50) then reviewed the value of the company’s remote outage-support unit, a full-time global network of about three dozen experts at the ready to answer questions concerning O&M and other issues affecting customers. Field-service IT innovation was the next topic, valued for its fast ramp-up of knowledge and intellectual property required by field operations. Quality improvement was cited as one of the advantages of an interconnected workforce sharing information, contacts, best practices, etc.
“Maintaining competence,” a goal of GE/FieldCore, is enabled by a program called HLC+ which provides connections with experts, next-level on-the-job training, and meaningful network connections.
The remainder of the Day Eight program focused on building expert crews by thoroughly evaluating the skills of candidate personnel, and the tools available to assure consistently high-quality outcomes. A crew assessment score was explained. It is a single risk score for each outage that combines individually weighted risk factors to ensure the best crew mix for the specific site and scope. A crew-score simulator is used to identify the best fit for the job based on technology, customer site, etc.
GE University I, Day 11, July 14
For many attendees, especially those with O&M responsibilities, the first day of the GE University program likely was the most valuable. It touched on a wide range of fleet concerns, offering guidance on how to deal with specific issues. Access the presentations on myDashboard for exposure to the following:
Compressor, Francesco Colombo, compressor technical leader
- 7F compressor risk management. Incorporates a must-have table that highlights some of the “risks”—such as S5 root cracking, S17 wear/migration—the units most susceptible (flared, unflared), whether hours- or starts-related, applicable TILs for details, and how to mitigate the risk.
- 7F flared enhanced compressor options. Presents the highlights of various 7F flared enhanced-compressor options for Packages 2, 2+, 3, 4, and 5, plus enhanced R0, enhanced S0-S5. The new Robust S5 replaces the Enhanced S5 as the go-forward standard configuration of ECP3 and higher. Guidance also is provided on how to mitigate corrosion pitting, reduce excess water ingestion, etc.
- Flared 7F stator Row 5 events. Explains increasing risk factors and recommended mitigations.
- 05 VSV2 tip loss. Recommends inspection scope/interval (TIL-2167) and provides “what to do” ideas to mitigate tip rubs.
- 05 T-fairing wear. High hours on turning gear identified as a key contributor. Recommends inspection scope/interval (TIL-2122). Low-speed turning-gear solution offered to alleviate the issue.
- Non-OEM pinned stator experience. Multiple field events said to confirm increased failure risk associated with pinned stator mods. GE recommends replacing non-OEM pinned stators with GE parts.
Turbine, Mike McDufford, compressor and turbine fleet manager
- 7F AGP/7F.05 fleet experience. No simple way to summarize the information presented. If you have a 7FA.05 the slides presented might prove valuable. Provides general overview of 7F AGP/7F.05 hot-gas-path hardware condition at the end of an interval and fleet experience to date thus far
- TIL-2045, 7F AGP S3B tip shroud creep. Same comment as above. Overview of TIL-2045 and recommendation to implement S3S cooling. The S3S cooling solution has completed validation testing with test results showing a temperature reduction of about 100 deg F possible with shroud cooling.
- TIL-2181, S1N creep degradation model. Update software to correct settings (T-fire) so parts do not run too hot for too long.
- 7F AGP S1N cover plate observations. Issue background, probable causes, containment and corrective actions given.
- TIL-2156, 7F 2SN repair experience. GE improving S2N durability with innovative technology.
- TIL-2006-R2, 7F.03 “post-repair” root cause analysis. Repair processing has improved; follow this TIL to mitigate running risk.
Combustion, Erin Brennan, combustion fleet engineer
- 7F DLN-2.6+ center fuel nozzle tip crack. RCA efforts are on-going; slide in presentation gives details.
- 7F DLN-2.6+ effusion plate crack. Upgraded effusion plate with TBC scheduled for field testing in Q4-2020.
- 7F XAA liquid fuel. System cleanliness critical to operational success; exercise XAA every six months at least.
- 7F DLN-2.6+ axial fuel staging.
Rotor, Matt Ferslew, GT rotor principal engineer, and Jorge Orlandini, rotor technical leader
- Rotor preservation PSIB (product service information bulletin). Valuable reference. One user learned that not properly laying up his rotor during an extended outage required a shop visit to correct issues that could have been avoided.
- F-class rotor inspections are critical for assuring long-term safe and reliable operation of your gas turbine. Early planning is important to success.
- Operational considerations and maintenance cost implications. Download a copy of GER-3620N for guidance. You can access with a simple Google search. Be sure the version you download is “N,” published in October 2017. It has the latest equations for starts- and hours-based factoring. Be aware that operational factors can have significant impact on rotor-life inspection requirements and maintenance costs. A table presented is illuminating in this regard.
- Flat slot bottom and turbine-wheel inspection observations. Inspections completed to date have confirmed the OEM’s recommendations in technical information letters. TIL-1971 units (F.01 and FA.01) are showing challenges to achieving 5000 factored fired starts, inspections required to determine true rotor capability. TIL-1972 capability depends on operational specifics and the actual initiation of any wheel cracks in FA.02/.03/upgraded FA.04 units.
- Rotor life-extension observations. Access the presentation and review the photos and drawings in the slides pertaining to this bullet point, and the one below. It’s not possible to describe all the things you should be aware of in a few words.
- Recent/current rotor investigations.
- Rotor life management options. Critical to success is early planning—two years before a major that will be conducted between 96k and 144k factored fired hours or 2500 and 5000 factored fired starts.
GE University II, Day 12, July 15
- AutoTune evolution, Dave Boehmer. This presentation reviews terminology and associated documentation (GEK-121348, GEH-6740, etc). If you’re not up to speed on MBC, ARES, and ETS, access these slides on myDashboard.
- AutoTune troubleshooting guidance, Dave Boehmer. Tips and awareness for avoiding runbacks, shutdowns, trips, and emissions excursions.
- Combustor operability, Stephanie Queen, lead combustion fleet engineer. Focus is on how to improve or navigate tight operating windows is provided by way of a couple of examples. Suggestions are offered on how to prepare for a successful remote tuning experience.
- Monitoring and diagnostics, Karen Miller. What GE’s M&D Center in Atlanta does, how it operates, and what it tracks on your gas turbine are included in this presentation. It also provides examples of dynamics monitoring, exhaust thermocouple monitoring, performance-degradation analytic, impending-failure analytic, etc.
- Gas fuel system reliability, Meg Lyman. Focus is on hydraulic oil varnish mitigation and the Parker servo-valve replacement option for Moog valves.
- Parts replacement lessons learned, Will McEntaggart, consulting engineer. Thinking of replacing that transmitter with a “smart” transmitter, or opting for third-party supplied thermocouples? Be sure you understand the risks regarding such things as temperature drift, response time, etc.
- Hazardous-gas system updates, Will McEntaggart, consulting engineer. Take the time to fully understand “improvements” to the aspirated haz-gas system to avoid spurious trips.
- Compressor bleed valves, Will McEntaggart, consulting engineer, and Chelsea O’Connor. Focus is on software protection and several best practices to improve CBV reliability.
- Air inlet system, Chelsea O’Connor. Reviews reference documents for O&M of inlet-air filter compartments, evap coolers, inlet-air duct systems, etc. Plus, TIL-2173 recommendations for a successful silencer panel inspection.
- Static starter reliability, Randy Ortiz. Identifies startup issues traced to 89SS, 89ND, 89TS, and 89MD switches; reviews Rev 3 of TIL-1755; reviews TIL-2219 regarding the prevention of LS2100e trip and 52SS breaker opening with no trip fault; discusses documentation and recommended maintenance intervals for LS2100 and LS2100e.
- Excitation system, Randy Ortiz. Breaker inspection and maintenance update; collection of data for engineering or user analysis; troubleshooting EX/LCI with capture buffers.
- Controls protection rationalization, Chris Cooper. Rethinking protection to improve reliability.
- Obsolescence, Charlie Straka. Thoughts on being prepared to avoid unintended outage delays attributed to ageing control components.
GE University III, Day 13, July 16
GE/Baker Hughes overview for controls
A few important points gleaned from this short presentation by Rob Turner, Mark VIe product manager:
- GE and Baker Hughes have 20 years of history working together in oil-and-gas and power-generation applications.
- The Mark VIe is GE’s controls platform for the future and Baker Hughes has access to that technology. GE remains the OEM for power generators and owns the Mark VIe technology, with Baker Hughes a strategic partner in this market sector.
- Baker Hughes continues to sell and service GE turbines in the oil-and-gas segment with Mark VIe control systems.
- GE account and service managers remain key paths for service and support for your units—including upgrades from legacy systems to Mark VIe technology, lifecycle planning for controls, post-installation services, etc.
- Notes of interest regarding control-system lifecycle status:
- The Mark VIe is the only gas turbine/steam turbine/DCS controls platform in production. All previous platforms (Mark I, II, III, IV, V, and VI) have legacy status.
- Regarding exciters for gas and steam turbines, the EX2100e is in production with the EX2100 having post-production status until 2021. Earlier excitation systems have legacy status.
- As for starting systems, the LS2100e is in production with the LS2100 having post-production status until 2021. Earlier starting systems (Innovation LCI and DOM+) have legacy status
Global repairs services
- Lean journey, Cameron Muhlenkamp, lean leader. A GE priority is to leverage lean to improve processes and eliminate waste. This presentation updates on actions taken and what’s ahead.
- Repair technology update, Camilo Sampayo, senior repair engineer. As the 7FA fleet matures, new pressures and repair needs are being identified and addressed. Repair costs are increasing because parts are ageing and new damage modes are coming into view. Examples of the latter include bucket slashface wear, thin airfoils from multiple repairs, deterioration of base and weld alloys, etc. Solutions summarized are 7FA.04 S2N heavy repairs and 7FA.03 S1B slashface restoration.
- Quality update, Charles Wilpers, senior quality A strategic focus for GE Gas Power is delivery world-class technology built on a foundation of quality, reliability, execution, and trust. A major focus this year is on improving GE’s customer communications along with its issue-resolution process. This presentation updates on those focus areas and the company’s quality roadmap.
- Hot gas path, Louis Veltre, 7F product manager. Several slides speak to optimal repair migration paths and strategies and likely are of considerable value to anyone responsible for gas-turbine O&M—particularly at the fleet level. One of the messages is to capture cost synergies with already planned repairs and to focus your spend on value adders—such as improved coatings, improved sealing, optimized cooling.
- Rotor life management, Louis Veltre, 7F product manager. One of several presentations focusing on the rotor, this one discusses rotor maintenance strategies for increasing life potential and reviews end-of-life options—including repowering, upgrade, replacement, exchange, extend.
- Additional considerations, Louis Veltre, 7F product manager. Improving operational safety with a safety shut-off valve, increasing reliability with an electric gas control valve, increasing turndown with an overboard bleed system, reducing ongoing O&M costs with a robust exhaust frame, increasing the reliability of the liquid-fuel system (if installed) with water flush and other enhancements, etc.