A recent online survey of power industry professionals from across the globe found that more than 65 per cent of those polled believe that gas turbine lubrication maintenance has a significant effect on their company’s profitability.
Lubricants Can Save You Money
One of the most significant and unexpected findings of the survey was that over 65 per cent of respondents said that the maintenance of the lubrication system of their gas turbines had either a moderate or major impact on their company’s profitability.
This is undoubtedly an interesting result, but should we be surprised by the fact that by conducting an effective lubrication maintenance regime you can markedly benefit your company’s bottom line? If looked at rationally, probably not when you consider the well-documented inter-relationship between lubricant efficiency and plant performance.
Lubricant efficiency depends heavily on the ability to form and maintain an oil film of adequate thickness. If this is not achieved in a machine then problems such as unit alarms, trips or even fail-to-starts can occur, and if your gas turbine is not turning you are not making money. In a similar vein, 77 per cent of those polled confirmed that lubricant efficiency had a moderate to major effect on their gas turbine operating costs. All the main lubricant suppliers make significant investments in tribology, or the ‘science of lubricants’, as lubrication is a key component in the overall value chain, and can have a crucial impact on efficiency and productivity, and therefore the economics of a gas turbine power plant.
When asked to rank from very important to insignificant the benefits of a lubricant utilised in a gas turbine, almost 91 per cent of respondents said greater machine uptime was the most important, closely followed by longer intervals between oil changes (88.6 per cent).
The ratio of turbine uptime to downtime is essential to the power production process. Any downtime resulting from a required turbine oil drain obviously impacts on the machine’s uptime. Thus, although the aim of preventive maintenance is to extend turbine life by guarding against component failure, and thereby maintaining operating efficiency, the economic impact of a temporary shutdown in order to carry out an oil drain should not be under-estimated.
Bakker continues: “Lubricants should be considered a vital engineering component of any power operation. They have a direct impact on equipment performance and reliability, and given that the economic case for avoiding unplanned downtime is extremely strong, applying the right lubricant technology according to the unique demands of a particular operation can deliver significant efficiencies.
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