Maintaining the reliability of generators and large motors is a very skilled task and one that is central to the productivity of many industries. Most large businesses using this specialist equipment have to choose between engaging a number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or selecting an independent service provider (ISP). The outcome of this decision can affect running costs as well as the efficiency and productivity of the company.
Jaime Valdez, Vice President of Sales at Electro Mechanical Services for Sulzer, looks at the capabilities and facilities required to deliver a comprehensive electromechanical maintenance service offering.
Generators and large motors form the heart of many industrial operations; creating energy and using it to drive processes that fulfil the needs of the day. Keeping all of this equipment operational and efficient requires a team that can tailor a comprehensive maintenance solution to suit each set of circumstances. Every application is different but each one will require an approach that promotes preventative maintenance and minimises reactive repairs.
Carrying out regular, non-invasive inspections and tests helps to build a picture of plant performance and to identify any anomalies that might indicate a threat to continued performance. Conducting and interpreting these tests calls for considerable expertise, but resolving potential issues in a tight time frame requires extensive technical facilities and experienced engineers.
As a world-class ISP, Sulzer has built a reputation for fast response times and on-time delivery of solutions; electromechanical services form the backbone of this success. The key is a wide knowledge base supported by an extensive network of service centres, equipped with the latest tools to repair and refurbish large motors and generators.
Defining successful maintenance
Any service provider needs to have a close relationship with the plant operator that promotes good communication and prompt action when required. In the ideal world preventative maintenance techniques, such as vibration monitoring and thermal imagery, would predict all potential issues and allow them to be rectified during a planned maintenance period. In reality, this is the ultimate goal, along with achieving zero lost time due to plant reliability.
A maintenance provider is only really tested when an unexpected failure requires immediate attention. The pressure to deliver a robust repair is considerable when every day of lost production is being counted by the customer. Being able to call on specialist, in-house facilities such as high voltage coil manufacturing, at-speed balancing and expert field service teams is certainly an advantage.
This can be illustrated by the repair of a 19 MW generator in which the stator was removed, completely rewound and recommissioned in just 30 days. By bringing together its in-house capabilities, Sulzer is able to deliver complex turnkey projects with minimal downtime.
Beyond the demands of immediate repair, there are often opportunities to benefit from improvements in design and efficiency during planned maintenance. Involving a highly skilled design engineer during this process will typically yield long-lasting rewards. Implementing advances in technology and materials can make significant improvements in the durability and performance of rotating equipment.
Independent maintenance providers should be able to offer plant operators a complete, turnkey solution for all of the rotating equipment on site, irrespective of the manufacturer. In Sulzer’s case this is supported by a global network of field service teams that can deliver expertise and on-site engineering assistance.
For example, a Sulzer team was responsible for removing a dry dock pump, originally built in 1912, and creating a new impeller and volute through reverse engineering, the pieces weighing 25,000 lbs (11 tonnes) and 5,000 lbs (2,25 tonnes) respectively. Again, Sulzer delivered a turnkey solution, with the same team refitting the pump and conducting comprehensive testing prior to handover.
In addition to the extensive maintenance and repair services on offer, Sulzer represents various manufacturers of industrial duty motors and drives, which can be delivered when the need arises. Suitable for a wide variety of applications, motors can be specified for medium voltage, vertical operation, explosive atmospheres and DC supplies, as well as creating custom-build motors for specialist applications.
Independent maintenance specialists have the flexibility to respond quickly when a customer has a significant issue that needs to be resolved fast. Involving a maintenance partner in more routine tasks and using their expertise can minimise downtime and reduce overall maintenance costs in the longer term.