BADEN, Switzerland — Showcasing its expanding predictive maintenance portfolio for power plant operators worldwide, GE’s Power Services business has signed an agreement to deploy advanced robotic inspection tools to inspect utility Alinta Energy’s gas-fired power plants in Australia and New Zealand. Endorsed by Alinta Energy’s insurance company as a best practice for gas power plants, GE’s DIRIS and TurboRotoscan inspection systems will alert the utility to potential generator issues and give it time to evaluate its options. The project was developed through GE’s Alstom power generation business, which it acquired in November 2015.
“We worked closely with GE’s team and our insurance company to demonstrate the benefits of the DIRIS and TurboRotoscan technologies for ensuring effective generator inspections,” said Gareth Williams, manager, engineering services — power generation, Alinta Energy. “Proving the technology’s reliability was important because the generator monitoring system provides the current condition of the generator and indicates any issues or early warnings of failures. It also provides us with greater flexibility as the inspection work can be done while the generator rotor remains in place. The biggest win for us was the ability to use this technology on non-GE units and apply it across our whole fleet. This makes such inspections quicker and easier to perform and is endorsed as a best practice by our insurance company, which indicates that most generator claims arise through rotor removal and replacement activities.”
Under the terms of the inspection agreement, GE will inspect 19 generators manufactured by GE, Alstom, Mitsubishi and Brush at seven of Alinta Energy’s gas-fired power plants in Australia and New Zealand.
“Predictive maintenance activities are essential to reduce costs and increase gas power plant reliability and efficiency,” said Anders Maltesen, general manager for GE’s Power Services business for the Asia-Pacific region. “By adding these inspection technologies to our existing services portfolio, we now offer total plant solutions to operators around the world, whether their equipment comes from GE, Alstom or other OEM suppliers. We are proud that these solutions have been endorsed by Alinta’s insurance company as a best practice for gas-fired power plants.”
The DIRIS robot will provide Alinta Energy with modern robotic instrumentation and tooling to allow fast and reliable remote inspection of the turbogenerator. It performs critical tests of the generator stator iron core laminations, stator radial wedging system and conducting a visual (video-type) inspection of the inside surfaces of the rotor and stator. These tests would normally be part of a typical overhaul regime after a lengthy process of removing the rotor and utilizing manual and semi-automated tooling. The low flux test permits the identification of short circuits between the stator iron core laminations, which could otherwise develop into critical “hot spots” and severely damage the generator. The tightness test of the radial wedging system permits identifying loose wedges, which could otherwise promote movement of the stator bars and damage to the stator winding insulation system.
The robotic technology TurboRotoscan will perform inspections of the generator retaining rings while the rotor remains in place and while the retaining rings are mounted on the rotor. The scanner also contains an eddy current probe to check the retaining ring outside surfaces.
The new generator inspections will begin in April 2016 and be performed through 2020.