When an electric rotating machine (ERM), such as the generator in a power-generation unit, fails, the consequence can be significant. Nowadays, digital transformation is a necessary and inevitable step to improve operational efficiency and reduce risks of power outages.
Traditionally, vibration sensors are used to detect failures in rotating machines, but their ability is limited to detecting mechanical failures only, neglecting common electrical failures. Industry advancements in big data analytics and new software applications combined with new sensing techniques, have enabled new ways to more effectively monitor and fine-tune the performance of an ERM.
The US company General Electric (GE) introduced an application development platform for the Industrial Internet that connects, monitors, and provides predictive analytics to the generator inside the plant. When deployed, it will collect data from electric sensors built into the generator asset.
According to GE, the Asset Performance Management (APM) application analyzes streams of data with key intelligence about the health and performance of the generator asset while searching for signs of mechanical or electrical anomalies, which may lead to potential failure or inefficiency. These insights can, in turn, help operators to fine-tune parameters of the generator to improve its performance.
More importantly, it will allow operators to solve potential problems before they occur, reducing costly unplanned downtime, mitigating risk, and improving productivity, as the company pledges. The data-driven operation method will also enable predictive maintenance, which means fixing machines before failures arise, without wasting time servicing them on a fixed schedule, and it will reduce excessive maintenance costs.
Alco Bio Fuel, one of Belgium’s major biorefineries, for instance, deployed the APM solution to future-proof the refinery’s power-generation unit’s refinery field operations. The service contract will last for 10 years, and GE will also be responsible for providing on-site service support.
“The need for production efficiency has opened up new opportunities to use digital technologies to accelerate field automation and improve plant productivity. Enabling this shift to data-based intelligence to reap additional value should be the focused strategy for companies to sustain their competitiveness. We are pleased to work with Alco Bio Fuel to digitally transform their way of operations,” said Azeez Mohammed, president & CEO, GE’s Power Conversion business.