Direct turbomachinery controls

By Rich Kamphaus

Control systems for gas turbines, steam tur-bines and compressors have become more complex. They now incorporate emis-sions-based algorithms (such as DLE and DLN), model-specific diagnostic routines, safety certified protection logic, and cybersecure firewall programs in recent years. This increased complexity is part of the reason why more turbomachinery owners are asking control manufacturers to provide long-term support services for their installed control systems. This is becoming an emerging trend in the market. Plant owners are requiring turbomachinery control manufacturers to provide long-term support for installed contol systems.

The outsourcing of the management of turbomachinery controls is becoming more common.

High employee turnover coupled with increased control system complexity is forcing turbomachinery owners to question how best to support their plants and turbomachinery long term. Some refinery and petrochemical owners, for example, demand that control manufacturers sign long-term service contracts before allowing the control system to be installed.

A long-term service contract with the turbomachinery control manufacture is seen as a way for plant owners to reduce yearly personnel training expenses, ensure they have access to control system specialists and the latest versions of hardware, software, and cyber-security protection. It eliminates the need to train plant personnel on control systems. Long-term service contracts for turbomachinery controls typically include requirements for many dif-ferent levels of support, including emergency phone support, email support, remote computer support, local technician services, revision control support, and plant personnel training services.

Depending on the plant’s network security requirements and applicable regulations, remote support can be as simple as plant personnel sharing their computer screen via Teams or Zoom. Alternatively, it can be as sophisticated as a secure remote link where a remote support team can log into a system, monitor, troubleshoot, and perform software patch updates as required. In such an environment, plants need cybersecurity expertise and protection. With these types of OEM-provided services, the plant is assured that service engineers are routinely trained on the lat-est system algorithms, network configurations, and cybersecurity patches. They also have access to factory experts to resolve system problems.

Most turbomachinery owners also require the control manufacturer to provide some level of local support to ensure quick response in the case of system failure or emergency event as well as provide periodic training to plant operators and engineers.

Woodward offers long-term support services for installed control systems.

Where turbomachinery availability is key for critical processes and plants, 24/7 access and response time by a local service engineer is a usual require-ment. Depending on the plant the local service engineer(s) may be required to spend a certain number of days in the plant and to be on-call. As control manufacturers are continually making improvements to their products, many plants are now including hardware, software, and cyber security revision control within long-term service contracts. This inclusion ensures that the control manufacture is routinely updating the control system with the latest version of control components, software programs, and security logic.

Responding to this emerging trend, Woodward provides long-term support services to turbomachinery owners globally, assisting them to keep plants operational and control systems up to date. Woodward offers a range of remote and site-based services, for all of its turbomachinery product lines. It is open to customizing service contracts for each plant’s support requirements.

■Rich Kamphaus is Global Sales Director for Steam Turbine and Compressor Markets at Woodward, a provider of control systems for the turbomachinery, aerospace, industrial, military, power generation, and transporta-tion markets. For more information, visit