WTUI vendor fair is part of the learning experience as Arnold insulation system illustrates

Vendor fairs at user-group meetings are win-win events: Plant personnel learn about products and services they otherwise might not be exposed to and suppliers gain access to those who might benefit from their solutions. Given today’s small staffs, and the high cost of visiting plants, such venues may offer the only practical way for buyers and sellers to connect face-to-face. This is particularly true concerning peaking facilities powered by remote-start aeros at locations without permanent staff.

The Western Turbine Users Inc’s annual conference, held in mid-March (in 2017, March 19-22 at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas), serves owner/operators of LM2500, LM5000, LM6000, and LMS100 gas turbines. It is the industry’s largest user meeting and vendor fair. In round numbers, 350 plant and central-office personnel responsible for GE aeros attended the organization’s 2016 meeting; about 170 companies participated in the vendor fair.

There was the traditional high visibility and robust representation in the exhibit hall by the OEM and the four depots licensed by GE to inspect and repair the engines addressed by the group: Air New Zealand Gas Turbines, IHI Corp, MTU Maintenance Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH, and TransCanada Turbines, plus major parts suppliers such as AGTSI and ap+m.

Arnold LM6000 1, 2However, these companies were only the proverbial tip of the “exhibitor iceberg” and generally well known to attendees—at least by name. There were another 160+ companies in the hall, many virtual unknowns to plant employees—about one-third of whom were attending their first WTUI meeting.

The organization’s officers and directors recognize the challenge of trying to get through the exhibit hall to identify the vendors of greatest interest at the moment and to at least have a brief discussion with each. That’s why the WTUI vendor fair is open for nearly 20 hours over three days. Most user groups just allow users and suppliers to connect for three or four hours on one evening.

CCJ editors have attended all the Western Turbine meetings over the last decade and are relatively familiar with the majority of exhibitors and their products. But every year, they’ll find a couple of “new” companies. This year, the “surprise” was thermal insulation systems from Arnold Group of Filderstadt, Germany for the exhaust casings of LM2500 and LM6000 engines. The editors could not recall seeing insulation systems in the exhibit hall nor could they remember ever hearing of insulation concerns during the breakout sessions.

But Pierre Ansmann, Arnold’s global head of marketing, assured that insulation deterioration on many engines in the LM2500 and LM6000 fleets was causing one or more of the following issues: excessive heat in the package (sometimes demanding increased ventilation), material degradation, excessive noise, damage to electrical and I&C cabling, hot spots, etc.

One of the problems associated with traditional insulation systems for aeros was said to be an ineffective method of attaching the insulating material to the engine. In such cases, Ansmann noted, engine vibration can wear away insulation at the point of attachment relatively quickly—especially when thin layers of marginally effective insulating material are used (Fig 1). He cited instances where insulation blankets have to be repaired or replaced at each outage.  

Arnold’s solution, Ansmann continued, is a stainless-steel-reinforced high-temperature cloth insulation protected by a layer of stainless foil and secured with a vibration-resistant stainless mesh (Fig 2). Note in the photo that straight washers are not used; they are crimped to avoid a flat surface that could cut through the insulation.

Arnold LM6000 3, 4

Another feature of the Arnold system, the editors were told, is interlocking steps between adjacent blankets to avoid gaps that occur because of casing thermal expansion. Figs 3 and 4 illustrate a completed project.

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