Users report new ways to leverage investment in PI

OSIsoft LLC’s PI System™ is a mainstay at US combined-cycle facilities, indeed throughout the electricity supply chain and allied energy industries. Those who use/have PI may be surprised at how expansive it has become for some owner/operators.

During the obligatory “bragging rights” session at the OSIsoft Users Conference in San Francisco, Apr 4-7, 2016, senior management reported that the company now has 70% of the North American energy market. While the basis for that figure wasn’t disclosed, you don’t need a doctorate in data science to know that PI serves in a vast number of powerplants and most power-generation companies.

Over 2500 facility managers and staff, along with 400 watching live around the globe, participated in the event. PI is installed at 17,000 sites across 120 countries. The company has experienced torrid growth; the number of employees has doubled over the last six years. With a wry smile, one executive assured the audience that they still have more developers than account managers.

Senior management stressed these takeaways:

      • PI has left the legacy of the plant data-historian “server” behind. OSIsoft is a data infrastructure “cloud” company and has been deploying several new products to support this, among them OSIsoft Cloud Connect and OSIsoft Cloud Services.

      • The company is “embracing the idea of partnerships like never before.” It has formed industry vertical user groups, and speaks of an “ecosystem with OSIsoft Marketplace.”

A deeper dive into the user presentations, plus discussions with PI product managers and partners, suggests that the main theme of the confab is leveraging a site’s investment in PI and reducing the need for separate applications which traditionally access PI data.

One user described how an IPP in the Philippines is now handling heat-rate monitoring functions in PI ProcessBook and PI Analytics. Responding to a participant during the Q&A, he noted that the company has EtaPRO™, GP Strategies’ popular Thermal Performance & Condition Monitoring System, but plans to phase out its use and migrate those functions to PI. Another user demonstrated PI’s suitability for advanced pattern recognition (APR) and transitioning from calendar-based maintenance to condition-based maintenance.

During the product demo session, following the formal presentations, one PI product booth displayed visualization capabilities which pretty much suggested a plant no longer needed separate alarm management software if they have advanced PI capabilities.

Certainly it isn’t a coincidence that standalone software companies that offered APR (Smart Signal Corp and InStep Software LLC, among others), alarm management (MatrikonOPC), and heat-rate monitoring have been acquired by the big dogs of the industry over the last five years. At the same time, DCS automation platform suppliers have been integrating this functionality into their offerings.

SPS® partners with OSIsoft

Strategic Power Systems Inc, Charlotte, has partnered with OSIsoft through the latter’s Connected Services program to expand its services to powerplants. The ORAP® database, well known to virtually every gas-turbine owner/operator, is popular with users and OEMs as a way to aggregate engine performance data on a fleet-wide, unit-model basis.

SPS can now achieve a greater fidelity for the aging characteristics data collected from its client sites, improve mission data collection and analytics (starts, stops, cycles, etc), reduce manual entry, and automate reporting to NERC, for which SPS is an official data reporting entity and “trusted party.”

Fidelity of data is key for NERC CIPS V compliance, according to SPS President Sal DellaVilla. Thermal performance monitoring now also can be conducted through the ORAP platform. For one customer with three plants in Texas, the expanded services have reduced the cost of traditional results engineering duties by 85%. Such experts can be deployed for higher-value activities.

Broader applications. As well-seasoned as PI is at plants and central performance monitoring facilities, PI infrastructure is now being deployed in far broader and deeper ways—for example:

      • A large UK gas supplier, “getting out of the powerplant business and into distributed small-scale generation,” uses PI infrastructure to operate and monitor DG units and manage the transactional interface, as well as handle energy time-shifting functions for customers. As a gas “G&T,” the company is able to trade as a portfolio on the wholesale side while settling customer transactions site-by-site. The firm’s representative stated that up to 20 GW of DG could benefit from this service in the UK alone.

      • A wind portfolio owner/operator in Japan monitors weather and wind-turbine conditions to forecast wind energy availability through PI infrastructure and, importantly, communicate with the grid operator regarding their daily ramp forecasts. More than 40 wind sites are part of this development program.

      • An Arizona utility, reportedly ranked fourth in solar-based power production (in the US), is applying PI infrastructure to monitor its (utility-owned) nine 10- to 40-MW solar PV facilities. The company hopes to expand its use to the 59 commercial-scale and 50,000-100,000 residential solar PV units interfaced with the utility’s grid. This program, in collaboration with EPRI, has a straightforward payback: For every one-half percentage point improvement in renewables forecasting, the utility can save approximately $1-million annually in natural gas costs trying to “follow” the sun.

      • PI infrastructure, integrated with a major PLC/DCS platform supplier, is now the “standard” infrastructure serving 21 North American breweries for one of the largest global beverage companies.

      • One of the largest utilities in the country has made PI infrastructure part of its “productivity through technology” initiative, being implemented as (1) a centralized performance monitoring facility for seven combined-cycle facilities, (2) as an advanced forecasting capability for its wind facilities scattered between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, and (3) for more efficient and maintenance-minded cycling and dispatch of its fossil assets. “A strong centralized PI system through an enterprise agreement with OSIsoft” is at the core of the initiative.

Posted in 7F Users Group |

Comments are closed.