POWER¦ Monitoring Evolution
CM programs for a biomass plant’s rotating equipment can include those supplied by the vendor. For example, Eagle Valley’s turbine condition monitoring system from Siemens, as part of its purchase order, monitors performance and around 50 to 60 operational parameters on the turbine itself, according to Wait. “We monitor those constantly and record trends daily to have a daily snapshot on turbine performance,” he says. “The plant operator who’s on shift is monitoring and Siemens is monitoring, and then Siemens will come in on a regular basis and evaluate various components in the plant and on the turbine itself and give us a recommendation.” According to Wait, Siemens suggests if they’re doing real-time monitoring and maintenance of the equipment, turbine equipment life on its major rebuild interval can extend to double what it would be if not monitoring. “I think that’s a good indication that your maintenance costs can be roughly cut in half with in-depth monitoring,” Wait says. UI uses GE’s Bently Nevada vibration monitoring system on its turbine generators, vibration analysis and oil analysis on rotating equipment, and thermography on electrical equipment.
Automation has become the industry standard for modern plants. According to Wait, Eagle Valley paid for an automated plant, but unfortunately didn’t get automation in a number of areas their contract requires. The company expected and needs automation because it only employs 13 people. “We don’t have the plant staff to walk around and see things and measure temperatures locally, as you might have in an old plant that may not have those automated monitoring systems,” Wait says. Aging plants make upgrades when possible. “We just installed a new continuous emissions monitoring system for our environmental emissions,” Ingrid Anderson says of UI’s power plant. “There are still some systems we use that are less automated, so the plant has been looking at what opportunities there are for upgrading.” Minnesota’s Elk River Energy Recovery Station was retrofitted in 1989, but the power plant began commercial operation with coal and oil dating back to 1950. Over the years, they’ve updated much of the instrumentation for monitoring. Holt says at the plant they conduct mostly in-house condition monitoring, but in some cases, such as for vibration monitoring for their fans and turbines, they have
third-party contractors who come in on a periodic basis and do a vibration route. Virtually, every component and process at a biomass power facility can be monitored to some degree, but the key is what will help a producer meet targets and improve the plant’s bottom line. Whether being used as an equipment-specific predictive maintenance tool, or, generally, to improve a plant’s overall operations, CM can save a biomass power producer time and money by circumventing unscheduled downtime. UI power plant staff has used fan vibrations data and bearing temperatures to determine if and when repairs would be needed to rotating equipment. “This specifically has saved us a few times on the secondary air fan motor for the circulating fluidized-bed boiler,” Ben Anderson says. “We were able to shut down prior to a catastrophic failure.” At Great River Energy’s WTE facility, Holt adds, “The condition monitoring we do to monitor the fuel conveyer system gives us the ability to shut down the system before a failure happens.” Author: Katie Fletcher Associate Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4920 firstname.lastname@example.org
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