Don't place asset operation above employee safety

Power Plant Management conference to focus on balancing cost, reliability

09/29/2011


In power plant management, the idea is to catch failures before they occur, says Aaron Melda, General Manager, Paradise Generating Station, Tennessee Valley Authority. However, if the budget for upgrades and new equipment is limited, power plant managers need to ask themselves: Are we putting our money in the right place at the right time? Melda is chairman of the marcus evans Power Plant Management Summit 2011, in Wheeling, Ill., October 17-19. Plant Engineering is a media sponsor of this event. Melda shares his thoughts on finding the balance between costs and the absolute reliability of plant equipment.

Q: How do you keep the Paradise Generating Station equipment safe and reliable?

Melda: We take a number of steps.

First: Apply a robust preventative maintenance program to identify the correct upkeep for all pieces of equipment that we are not planning to run to failure.

Second: Monitor, operators go on daily rounds, checking for trend information that is passed on to the engineering team to determine if any measures must be taken to ensure reliable operation of the plant.

Third: Learn, we have a strong corrective action program for when equipment does fail. We try to find the root cause of the problem and put corrective actions in place to prevent it from occurring again.

Most important: Plan, from a long-term viewpoint, we do long-range planning to identify how often major rebuilds and equipment replacement will be required to plan for the funding of these future needs.

Q: How can companies in this industry stay competitive?

Melda: Staff should attend technology seminars, training sessions and benchmarking activities, to know the latest and greatest out there for proactive maintenance and operation. They should also look for new types of monitoring equipment and consider how they could be applied in their plant.

The idea is to catch failures before they occur. Many managers consider what needs to be rebuilt based on frequency, whereas we try to find a balance between the cost and the absolutely reliability of our equipment. We aim to identify failures through data and trending, to make sure we are putting our money in the right place at the right time.

Q: What technologies can power plant managers take advantage of today to optimize their plants?

Melda: Wireless technology to monitor our equipment has been a real benefit to us, as it significantly reduced our costs. Running conduit/wiring between equipment is expensive. Ideally, we want to monitor all pieces of equipment, but in the past it would not have been economically feasible to monitor recycle pumps, heater drain pumps and some of the smaller equipment that can fail and cause reliability issues.

Wireless technology allows us to economically justify better and more continuous monitoring to prevent more failures.

Q: Any final comments?

Melda: There are two critical derailers in this business: placing asset operation above employee safety and not having a long-range plan in place.

Employee safety has to be our first priority, environment the second, asset preservation the third and megawatts fourth. Maintaining this level of priority is absolutely critical.

Power plant managers should have a long-range plan and vision for the business. There is equipment that they look at once every ten years, but without a capital portfolio and budgetary commitments in place for a 5- to 10-year period, it will be very difficult to go on a year-over-year cycle, trying to justify and improve performance.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.