Power | Reliability Engineering

14 Apr 2017

Arrelic Insights

TRF strategies: Using Peak Reliability to increase Availability

Power is one of the most critical components of infrastructure crucial for the economic growth and welfare of nations. The existence and development of adequate infrastructure is essential for sustained growth of the Indian economy.

India’s power sector is one of the most diversified in the world. Sources of power generation range from conventional sources such as coal, lignite, natural gas, oil, hydro and nuclear power to viable non-conventional sources such as wind, solar, and agricultural and domestic waste. Electricity demand in the country has increased rapidly and is expected to rise further in the years to come. In order to meet the increasing demand for electricity in the country, massive addition to the installed generating capacity is required.

Indian power sector is undergoing a significant change that has redefined the industry outlook. Sustained economic growth continues to drive electricity demand in India. The Government of India’s focus on attaining ‘Power for all’ has accelerated capacity addition in the country. At the same time, the competitive intensity is increasing at both the market and supply sides (fuel, logistics, finances, and manpower). Total installed capacity of power stations in India stood at 315,426.32 Megawatt (MW) as of February 28, 2017. The Ministry of Power has set a target of 1,229.4 billion units (BU) of electricity to be generated in the financial year 2017-18, which is 50 BU’s higher than the target for 2016-17. The annual growth rate in renewable energy generation has been estimated to be 27 per cent and 18 per cent for conventional energy. Under the 12th Five Year Plan, the Government has added 93.5 GW of power generation capacity, thereby surpassing its target of 88.5 GW during the period.

Thus, there is an unquestionable growth and expansion in the power generation sector. The Indian power sector has an investment potential of Rs 15 trillion (US$ 225 billion) in the next 4–5 years, thereby providing immense opportunities in power generation, distribution, transmission, and equipment, according to Union Minister Mr Piyush Goyal.

The government’s immediate goal is to generate two trillion units (kilowatt hours) of energy by 2019. This means doubling the current production capacity to provide 24x7 electricity for residential, industrial, commercial and agriculture use. The Government of India is taking a number of steps and initiatives like 10-year tax exemption for solar energy projects, etc., in order to achieve India's ambitious renewable energy targets of adding 175 GW of renewable energy, including addition of 100 GW of solar power, by the year 2022.

The need for reliable power generation has never been greater. There are many research issues which can be addressed in the Energy sector to mitigate the many challenges it’s currently facing. Among these issues are poor infrastructure, poor reliability, high pricing, maintenance practice, quality of power, safety of both human and equipment etc. Poor maintenance services adds much woe to the production commitments, which is generally overlooked in the planning and strategy phase.

The operational efficiency of the generation, transmission and distribution utilities is critical in ensuring that the cost of supply is minimized as well as maintaining the financial sustainability of the sector. One of the biggest barriers to reliable power generation is the ability to maintain complex power plant equipment. Maintenance is critically reliant on access to industry specific knowledge. For many reasons access is not occurring.

Mentoring and inter-generational knowledge transfer is not occurring in all work environments and has created a disparity of experience. Older experienced engineers have been retiring, taking institutional knowledge with them. Sufficient mid-level engineers have not replaced them. Entry-level engineers, though digitally savvy, lack the machine operating experiences needed to troubleshoot problems specific to an aging fleet of machines. There should be proper training programmes scheduled to aware the workforce of the advantages and implications of a Total Reliability Framework (TRF) to increase the efficiency of both machines and manpower.

Disparate resources provided by manufacturers, suppliers and consultants make the diagnosis of generator issues difficult. Smaller power producers may not have access to the same technical resources as large producers or receive the same support. Remote geographic locations often make responsive technical advice difficult if not impossible. Thus the long term life-cycle and reliability of electrical generators is dependent on plant engineers' access to detailed, relevant and timely information - complete knowledge transfer. So, training the workforce well in the area of Total Reliability Framework is instrumental for maximising the productivity of a power plant.

Maintenance personnel who are not following what is termed as ‘Best Reliable Maintenance Repair Practices’ substantially affect equipment failures. Between 30% and 50% of the self-induced failures are as a result of maintenance personnel not knowing the basics of maintenance. Maintenance personnel, who, although skilled, choose not to follow best reliable maintenance repair practices, potentially cause another 20% to 30% of those failures.

Total Reliable Framework (TRF) is necessary for maintenance personnel to keep equipment operating at peak reliability and companies functioning more profitably through reduced maintenance costs and increased productivity and capacity. The potential cost savings can often be beyond the understanding or comprehension of management. Many managers are in a denial state regarding maintenance. The result is that they do not believe that repair practices directly impact an organization’s bottom line or profitability. More enlightened companies have demonstrated that, by reducing the self-induced failures, they can increase production capacity by as much as 20%. Other managers accept lower reliability standards from maintenance efforts because they either do not understand the problem or they choose to ignore this issue. A good manager must be willing to admit to a maintenance problem and actively pursue a solution.

The maintenance function must ensure that all production and manufacturing equipment is in optimum operating condition. The normal practice of quick response to failures should be replaced with reliable maintenance practices that will sustain optimum operating condition of all plant systems. The plant should not only be operating but reliably operate at or above nameplate capacity without creating abnormal levels of product quality problems, preventive maintenance downtime or delays. The objective should be maintenance optimization, not quick fixes of breakdowns.

The importance of reliable service should not be underestimated, in particular in the increasingly competitive market environment in which many utilities around the world are operating today. The service provided by the industry – electric power – is not considered to be particularly exciting when things run well and the lights are on. Only when the service is not there, does it become exciting and hits the headlines. Only then do customers begin to understand and appreciate the real value of secure access to electricity and the full extent to which modern society depends on reliable supplies of electric power.

Maintenance is defined as “The combination of all technical and associated administrative actions intended to retain an item in, or restore it to, a state in which it can perform its required function” by British standard 3811. It includes inspection, testing, servicing, repair and reclamation. In sum maintenance encompasses all works carried out on a plant or a facility with the view to rectifying a defect or failure in its functioning or performance; preventing failure in its functioning and/or improving the state of the facility so as to sustain its utilization and value. In a production facility, maintenance acts as a support for the production process, where the production input is converted into specified production output. Industrial maintenance comes as a secondary process, which has to contribute for obtaining the objectives of production. Maintenance must be able to retain or restore the systems for carrying out a perfect production function. (Gits, 2010).

Best maintenance practices are defined in two categories: standards and methods. Standards are the measurable performance levels (benchmarking) of maintenance execution; methods and strategies must be practiced in order to meet the standards. The combination of standards with methods and strategies provides the elements of an integrated planned maintenance system. Achievement of the best maintenance practice standards (maintenance excellence) is accomplished through an interactive and integrated series of links with an array of methods and strategies. Maintenance planning and scheduling is an essential part of effective maintenance. Planners must develop and implement both preventive and corrective maintenance tasks that achieve maximum use of maintenance resources and the production capacity of plant systems. Good planning is not an option. Plants should adequately plan all maintenance activities, not just those performed during maintenance outages. Standard procedures and practices are essential for effective use of maintenance resources. The practices should ensure proper interval of inspection, adjustment or repair. In addition, these should ensure that each task is completed properly.

We, at Arrelic, can help your factory to develop Standard maintenance procedures (SMPs) so that any qualified craftsperson can successfully complete the task in the minimum required time and at minimum costs. Adherence to standard operating practices (SOPs) is also essential. The workforce must have the training and skills required to complete their assigned duties. In addition, maintenance management must ensure that all maintenance employees follow standard practices and fully support continuous improvement. We will help you in putting your best foot forward.

Skills and training plays a major role in maintenance. Most of the work is normally carried out by Craftsmen and Technician/Foremen. Most of them have learned their skills on job trainee on the basis of watch and learn. However, with the expansion in mechanization and automation of machines structured technical training programs have been developed to upgrade the skills for the maintenance teams. This is critical for an effective maintenance practice. The competence of human resources in the maintenance department is considered an important factor in a successful maintenance program. Competence can be described as a combination of knowledge, skills, ability, willingness, interest and personal characteristics. Educational resources, which can include technical consultation as well as training, acts as a platform on which staff expertise can be developed. We, at Arrelic, will help your workforce to enrich existing knowledge in maintenance practices and plants. Good maintenance practices will lead to high plant availabilities, increased production and low operational costs and reduction to electricity bills.

Performing a job task analysis (JTA) will help define the skill levels required of maintenance department employees. The JTA should be followed with a skills assessment of employee knowledge and skill levels. Analysing the gap between required skills and available skills to determine the amount and level of training is necessary to close the gap.

Investment in maintenance is considered a very important factor for leveraging the value of industrial assets. It could be in people, training or technology. In spite of the increasing awareness of maintenance and its influence on both enterprises and society, maintenance is still considered just as an unpredictable and unavoidable expense, instead of a revenue contributor, which it can be if proper TRF is efficiently implemented.

Usually, maintenance actions are aimed at minimizing failure and the consequences of failure of industrial plant, machinery and equipment as far as possible. These actions can take several forms such as breakdown maintenance, preventive maintenance (PM), i.e. replacing components at a pre-determined time using statistical models based on collected historical failure data, or condition-based maintenance (CBM) by monitoring the condition of the component using one (or more) condition monitoring (CM) techniques. However, in all cases, the decision maker needs to select from all the applicable maintenance approaches the right policy for each component, module or equipment. The identification and implementation of the appropriate maintenance policy will enable the managers to avoid premature replacement costs, maintain stable production capabilities, and prevent the deterioration of the system and its components.

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