"We were able to cut maintenance costs by up to 16 percent"
Smooth industrial gas turbine operation is essential for Argentine fertilizer manufacturer Profertil. That’s why it became the first customer world-wide for a new, customized digital maintenance concept from Siemens – and as a result it has extended the maintenance intervals for its turbine by as much as 30 percent, while cutting its maintenance costs by up to 16 percent.
by Tim Rokita
Profertil is one of the world’s largest producers of urea, an important base product for fertilizer used in agriculture. Every year the company produces more than 1.3 million metric tons of urea. For the complex manufacturing process, Profertil needs not only electricity, but also process steam and a compressor.
That’s why, in 2012, it decided to invest in a new industrial power station at its main production plant in Argentina’s coastal city of Bahía Blanca. An SGT-600 industrial gas turbine from Siemens is at the heart of the new plant, which began operation in 2015. It drives both a generator for electricity production and a compressor. It also uses a heat recovery steam generator to provide process steam for fertilizer production.
That means it performs three key tasks within the overall production process. An unforeseen outage would bring the whole operation to a stop and would cause substantial losses for Profertil. Regular downtimes for maintenance activities could also disrupt the production processes.
Customized, digital gas turbine maintenance
“After we installed the new gas turbine, the biggest challenge was to coordinate maintenance activities with our operational schedule to ensure a high level of availability and reliability,” explains Claudio Pérez, Reliability and Inspection Supervisor at Profertil. Siemens introduced FlexLTP just when Profertil was looking for the right service concept for its industrial gas turbine. This new, flexible long-term service program draws on the opportunities offered by digitalization and provides a service that’s precisely coordinated with the customer’s industrial turbine.
FlexLTP combines analyses of plant operation data and information about environmental conditions and component properties with fleet data gathered over a period of decades. Sensors on the turbine record operational data in real time and forward it to the Remote Diagnostic Center via the control room. That means Siemens can precisely observe and predict maintenance requirements, and wear and tear affecting individual components. As a result, all maintenance activities can undergo a process of continuous improvement.
Álvaro Casas, LTP Project Manager at Siemens, recalls: “Profertil was looking for a service that would be both reliable and flexible, and would help avoid unscheduled outages. We analyzed the operating sequences in the fertilizer plant and worked out the best times for maintenance work. The outcome was that we were able to offer the company a service contract that was perfectly tailored to the customer’s needs.”
Longer maintenance intervals, lower maintenance costs
“We were able to cut maintenance costs by up to 16 percent, while extending maintenance intervals by as much as 30 percent, so we could generate more electricity and reduce life cycle costs,” says Claudio Pérez, Reliability and Inspection Supervisor at Profertil. The reduction in maintenance costs was so significant because only the really needed maintenance activities were performed. The benefit for the customer is that the turbine offers maximum availability while simultaneously being extremely reliable.
Tim Rokita, Free journalist in Germany
Picture credits: Siemens AG
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