Risk management: Insurer commands user attention at CCUG meeting

A representative from a major powerplant insurance firm delivered some foreboding words and statistics at the Combined Cycle Users Group’s (CCUG) 2017 Annual Conference, held in Phoenix the last week of August. In particular, he stated that 40% of transformer faults occur regardless of any prevention or inspection techniques. Transformers, he said, fail regularly. He added that 70% of all losses are equipment breakdown.

He further noted that process safety culture in the US “lags behind Europe and Australia,” and urged the audience to download his company’s loss-prevention data sheets. A quick review by the editors of the two sheets he referenced as examples shows it’s a good idea: They are loaded with good information and procedures.

Users can access this informative risk-management presentation in the FORUM on the Power Users website. It offers valuable guidance on fire protection and prevention and on maintaining the integrity of lubrication systems. Note that Power Users is the umbrella organization for managing and coordinating the technical programs for the 7F, Combined Cycle, Steam Turbine, and Generator Users Groups.

The speaker also identified other good sources of information. Example: OSHA, which publishes its findings after investigating significant catastrophic events. He referenced an OSHA news release from Sept 27, 2013 as an example. The document describes a generator explosion at a large coal-fired plant in the Southeast and the 17 serious safety violations the owner/operator was cited for. While the resulting proposed fines totaled over $100,000, the scope of the violations screams negligence.

To underscore the need for broad programs like systems knowledge and management of change, he recounted the failure of DC power supplies at a plant which affected the AC side of the electrical system and caused a loss of lubrication on coast down, which went on to impact the entire turbine. “Check your batteries!” he urged. This kind of failure apparently occurs at least once a year, with an average equipment loss of $20-million.

He labeled such failures routine events with severe consequences, as contrasted to routine events, including transformer failures and, as another example, clashing damage in Frame 7 compressors (and also in some Frame 5 and 6 units) attributed in part to vane lock-up in carbon-steel vane carriers. 

Some of his other points and suggestions include these:

      • OEMs are known to have installed parts which were condemned.

      • Greater oversight is required of third-party independent component suppliers.

      • Identify single points of failure and address them.

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