Special technical presentations profiled here focus on LM6000 maintenance, repair

This year the WTUI President Chuck Casey and the organization’s officers and directors (sidebar) increased by 50% the number of speakers participating in the group’s popular special technical presentations session to expose attendees to more subjects of interest beyond the basic engine. The Tuesday afternoon program in Palm Springs began at 2:30, an hour earlier than had been the norm. This provided time for three one-hour sessions in series, each offering three concurrent presentations.

The diversity of subject matter ensured there was likely something of interest to attendees in each time slot. Here’s a sampling: aero control systems, EMI diagnostics for generators, HRSG superheaters, water chemistry, emissions monitoring, performance testing. Qualified users can access the special technical presentations at www.wtui.com.

The only two speakers focusing on LM gas turbines, Reed Services Inc’s Dale Reed and MT R&O LLC’s Rick Kowalski, PE, returned for the second year in a row to continue where they left off at the 2015 meeting in Long Beach.

WTUI leadership, 2016-2017  

Chuck Casey
Riverside Public Utilities

Vice Presidents
Bill Lewis
TransCanada Corp

Jim Bloomquist
Chevron USA Inc

David Merritt
Kings River Conservation District

Ed Jackson
Missouri River Energy Services

Alvin Boyd
Aero O&M Contract Services

Wayne Kawamoto

Board of Directors
Devin Chapin
Turlock Irrigation District

Jermaine Woodall
Exelon Generation

Howard Hoffmann
Ameren Missouri

Rick McPherson
Walnut Creek Energy Park

Andrew Robertson
Wellhead Services Inc

Charles Lawless
Southern California Edison Co

John Hutson
Orange Grove Energy Center

Importance of LM6000 OEM prescribed maintenance. Reed’s primary reference for this year’s presentation was the same one he introduced to the group in 2015, GEK 105059, Volume 1/Chapter 12, when his focus was on commonly overlooked maintenance requirements for the LM6000PC. He began by suggesting attendees get the latest edition of this publication because GE added to the general checks and inspections in 2016.

Reed’s realistic. He noted at the beginning of his presentation that it’s not practical to do all the things the OEM suggests in its manuals; you have to pick what’s most important to your particular unit and situation. One example he gave is that when it comes to preparing a borescope plan, always do a complete inspection of the HP turbine.

Enclosure inspection was one of the focal points of the presentation. Reed suggested having a copy of the packager’s manual for guidance. Anytime the package is accessible and a member of the O&M team is inside, everything that can be done should be done, he said. Confirming the proper functionality and performance of the following systems should be on your list:

      • Air and ventilation system.

      • Fuel system.

      • Sprint™ system.

      • Exhaust system.

      • Oil system.

      • I&C system.

An inlet and coupling inspection also was suggested as part of the package inspection. Places to check are the external surfaces of the volute and the coupling between the gas turbine and generator. Also, the volute internal surface and above the FOD screen.

Inspection of the engine exterior also can be done at this time. Depth of inspection depends on the time available. At a minimum, look for oil leaks and physical damage. Check both sides of the unit, taking notes on tasks to pursue as time permits. Hands-on wiggle check of components was recommended to review their condition in more detail.

Reed spent quality time on how to inspect the lube oil system and scavenge-pump inlet screen and filter; also on the inspection of liquid-fuel nozzles—including when to consider replacing them. An ensuing discussion on nozzle coking, burning, and wear was well received. Other topics covered included variable bypass-door rig inspection, ignition-system functional check with visual inspection of tip and electrode, fuel metering valves, compressor cleaning, functional checks of fuel, purge, and solenoid valves, compressor cleaning to meet performance objectives, vibration monitoring, replacement of first-stage HPC blades, etc.

LM engine component repair and overhaul options for ageing machines. Kowalski, like Reed, is a subject-matter expert in the inspection, overhaul, and repair of aero engines for land and marine applications. Plus, both have complimentary aircraft engine experience. The messages the two experts had for WTUI members were confidence builders, providing especially valuable perspective for “landlocked” plant personnel with little or no access to in-house engine expertise.

As mentioned above, Reed told his audience that OEM-prescribed maintenance was important and vital to the health of their engines. However, most owner/operators cannot afford to do everything the engine manufacturer suggests at the recommended frequency. Priorities must be established by the user and they must be based on hard knowledge not a CFO’s whim.

Kowalski’s message was similar: He encouraged participants in his session to challenge the OEM for information to enable economic decisions on repair/replace, and not just accept as fact that a part may be scrap. His presentation last year focused on possible dispositions: accept/use as is, rework, repair, reject, and scrap. These are terms important to understand and remember; Kowalski reviewed them in his 2016 presentation.  

The repair expert’s goal was to get LM engine owner/operators to embrace commercial aviation approaches in hardware evaluation and maintenance strategies. He began with a market assessment, which suggests LM users have significant market power that they may not be using to competitive advantage unless perhaps their company owns a large fleet of engines. Kowalski’s talking points were the following:

      • LM engines maintain a strong track record for performance and reliability.

      • Cost to upgrade drives decisions to maintain or replace parts and engines.

      • Access to inventory is controlled and can be limited.

      • There is a finite availability for replacement parts in the market.

      • OEM guidelines and recommendations can drive decisions for replacement versus repair for serviceability.

      • There is an expressed need for salvage options with existing engine components.

      • Commercial aviation with FAA concurrence is developing working strategies to give engine and system owners greater control of their destiny.

Kowalski’s market observations were conducive to his suggestion that WTUI’s stated mission (available on the website) could be expanded along commercial aviation’s initiatives to support increased engine-owner control of their equipment. Continuing, he said, WTUI’s user members, OEM affiliates members, and associates members each have a role in this vision and a stake in the outcome; WTUI would provide the common ground.

He stressed economic responsibility in his presentation, introducing military standards 480B and 1520C, which form the basis for a corrective action and disposition system to identify and correct causes of manufacturing non-conformances, prevent the recurrence of wasteful nonconforming material, reduce the cost of manufacturing inefficiency, and foster quality and productivity improvement. He suggested expanding the use of these documents to engine-run hardware.

Knowing owner/operators would require detailed information to support decision-making, Kowalski pointed out that commercial aviation-engine owners are entitled to technical data and have repair decision rights. He suggested this as a possible WTUI initiative. The FAA, he explained, has formally recognized the rights of airframe, engine, and airframe/engine component owners to manage the repair and overhaul of their fleets and provided access to OEM technical data.

In wrapping up, Kowalski called for improved participation between engine owners and GE for the expanded serviceability of engines and engine hardware.

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