OEMs advise aftermarket loyalty

July 22 2012 - TI Staff

\"\"There are many sources out there offering aftermarket parts, often at rates far below those of the OEM. Yet, most OEMs are understandably against the practice of finding replacement parts anywhere else. They typically state performance benefits of their own products as well as warranty objections to those tempted to stray from the path.

(A Rolls-Royce gas turbine)

Rolls-Royce products are aero-derivative machines, and are removed and returned to an authorized service center when an overhaul is required. A replacement unit is installed at this time. Users do not conduct overhaul work themselves other than to install the replacement gas generator or power turbine. For power turbines, the overhaul life is either 50,000 or 100,000 hours when the turbine is removed and returned to the service center.

Dave Taylor, Director of Engineering for Services at Rolls-Royce Energy said product warranty can only be maintained through the use of OEM parts. As well as benefiting from the deep domain expertise Rolls-Royce can provide as the OEM, there is a clear performance guarantee and commercial advantage to operators. He said, “Parts that have defined life are replaced during the service overhaul. Life sampling is carried out on these parts to improve our knowledge of performance in the field, enabling us to gather data to further extend the part’s life.”

Rolls-Royce recently introduced an upgrade for the Avon gas generator called the Avon 200. Its new turbine assembly allows the operator either a 10% increase in power or a 20% increase in life. Taylor said over 80 units have been sold to date. “We are working on a similar upgrade for the RB211, called Gzero, which should be available in early 2013. We can also offer combustor upgrades (gas-only to dual fuel or DLE) to increase fuel flexibility or reduce emissions,” he said.

Aftermarket parts: Is there life after the OEM?
As the gas turbine morphs from a supplementary source of power to being increasingly responsible for baseload, the aftermarket has become more lucrative. Carlo Luzzatto, President of Chromalloy, estimated that the gas turbine service business amounts to somewhere around $16 to $17 billion per year. He qualified this by saying that this number may not include upgrades to turbines and replacements of the fleet, so the actual total may be as high as $20 billion annually.

With so much at stake, it is not surprising that more spare part and aftermarket options are becoming available. This applies, in particular, to the F-class market. Mick Conway, Marketing Director of Wood Group GTS said, “As the installed base matures and existing OEM service contracts expire, the F-class market has begun to open up for the independent sector.”

As well as straightforward replacement parts, some suppliers are seeking to improve upon the original components by incorporating design and material innovation. However, third parties typically are reluctant to offer parts for the very latest machines. Scott Nicol, General Manager for Turbine Services at Chromalloy said, “For an engine design less than 10 years in operation, we recommend the operator uses OEM parts, as design integrity, repair history and failure modes are being established and ideally addressed.”

Spare parts comprise the largest slice of the maintenance pie. As a result, there are
plenty of choices available for the Frame 5 up through the E, and more recently for F-class engines, which have been spinning for over 15 years. Their designs have stabilized to a point where third parties provide options aimed at improving life cycle costs. This makes F-class components a hot commodity.

Read more in the Aug./Sept. 2012 issue of Turbomachinery International.