Packages and pre-build modules

Not so long ago users tended to order turbines, compressors and auxiliary equipment from OEMs and a cast of thousands. Equipment often arrived piecemeal and had to be cobbled together on site – an inefficient,  time-consuming and expensive proposition. Understandably, a better mode of operation was desirable.  OEMs and partners, such as Kawasaki, Pratt & Whitney, Centrax, Elliott Group, Solar Turbines and GE Oil & Gas, began to take on the role of packager. They provided end users with an integrated system – ready to ship and rapidly implemented. 

“Packaging helps facilitate ease of system testing, with minimal interconnecting piping and customer  connections,” said Alex Schaefer, Applications Engineering Manager for Elliott Group. “The end result is a lower space requirement; smaller and lower-weight packages; improved logistics, and reduced shipping  costs.”

Some packagers even went a step further, providing subsystems specially tailored to a specific duty. IHI Corp. (Tokyo), for example, has a standard package for the GE LM2500 aeroderivative turbine. It’s primary use is for marine propulsion. Similarly, UK-based Centrax provides packages for Rolls-Royce and Siemens gas turbines.

While packaging deals with a unit of turbomachinery and its auxiliary equipment, modularization generally applies to a larger collection of turbines, compressors and other heavy equipment. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) trains, for example, are frequently shipped as massive modules to minimize the amount of commissioning that has to be deployed on site.

“A module is an optimized configuration of compression, power and auxiliary equipment 100% tailored to customer needs,” said Davide Iannucci, Operation Leader for Modules at GE O&G. “These fully  transportable packages with a dedicated control room are integrated and ready to start.” One such modular facility is GE’s Avenza Construction Yard, situated next to the company’s Massa facility on the west coast of Tuscany, Italy.

While Massa is both manufacturing center and where GE conducts full-load testing on liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains, the role of Avenza is to modularize production to minimize the amount of activity needed onsite by integrating all systems prior to shipping. Offshore and onshore packages are available.

Avenza is vast. An initial 40,000 m2 is being expanded rapidly to 140,000 m2, as well as a 25,000 m2 warehouse. To date, GE is utilizing about 40,000 m2 of the space with another 60,000 m2 being used for smaller module projects. Over the next year or two, the company will exploit all 140,000 m2 for commissioning and assembly of modules.

Situated 500 m from the port, Avenza is more accessible to the sea than Massa. Modules as large as 60 m in length can be erected at the facility. For example, five modules for the Gorgon LNG plant in Australia were recently assembled there. This comprised five GE MS90001e gas turbine modules rated at 130 MW each. Each module was 48m by 22m by 28m and weighed 2,300 tons.

Many turbomachinery OEMs perform their own packaging. Some companies, such as marine and pipeline packagers, will customize an OEM machine to a particular duty. And one OEM – Elliott Group – packages its own equipment as well as that of other manufacturers.

(More in November/December 2012 issue of Turbomachinery International magazine)