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Jim Rudolph, President of Industrial Turbomachinery Systems at Woodward, discusses emerging trends in rotating equipment control and safety, as well as how suppliers address the needs of equipment owners.
We’re seeing more end-users looking for complete, fully integrated systems - controls, actuators, valves, and so on, - to optimize operations, lower total cost of ownership, improve safety and increase uptime. Historically, the market’s been striving toward more efficient and costeffective operation, of course. What’s different today is a growing interest in integrated systems that communicate and share data seamlessly with the distributed control system (DCS), thereby simplifying troubleshooting and support.
We’re seeing a trend where operators are striving to capitalize on the digital technology to gain visibility to the wealth of information available from the turbine or compressor controller. An issue now is the overload of non-critical information, which can impede safe equipment operation if not prioritized correctly.
We’re developing solutions that deliver appropriate data (actionable knowledge, not dozens of random data points open to interpretation) where it’s needed, when it’s needed and with the correct priority. This can mean delivering automatic, data-informed correction in milliseconds, when safety of personnel and equipment are at stake.
Technology is also changing how and where rotating equipment is being operated, managed, and supported. The humanmachine- interface (HMI) is a key area where technology is changing our market. Through internet and wireless communications, plant operators and OEMs can now monitor, operate, manage, and in some cases even repair equipment remotely, decreasing production losses and support costs.
Absolutely. These days, you have to go beyond the development of systems that address guidelines such as the cyber-security standards of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The new requirement is to become expert in understanding and interpreting such standards. This is the only way to adequately support OEMs and end-users as they work toward compliance. Our response, therefore, has been to invest in training our existing personnel and hiring experts to address this trend.
Take the subject of safety. We are observing some confusion in today’s market with regard to safety certification. Understandably, we’re seeing requests for quotes (RFQs) in which end-users are specifying more than they need (thus overspending) in an attempt to ensure compliance with difficult-to-interpret standards. Suppliers who become experts in safety standards, such as those of the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), are able to partner with rotating equipment users and OEMs to execute right-sized projects (from both the engineering and cost perspectives) that meet safety certification requirements.
As more petrochemical plants begin to utilize floating production storage and off-loading (FPSO) vessels, the trickledown requirement for our industry is to create products and components that are suitable for installation and operation within the marine environment.
Close proximity of equipment and the harsh environment associated with such vessels provide considerable challenges for manufacturers. As a result, our design teams work closely with marine listing agencies like Lloyds, Det Norske Veritas (DNV), and ABS to ensure we meet the required marine standards.
We are constantly working with OEMs, partners and end users to refine our portfolio of turbomachinery optimization and process solutions. The latest product in our ProTech PLC line, is ProTechTPS. This is a safety PLC with integrated overspeed protection. In response to the needs of the market, this device is IEC61508 SIL-3 certified and it adheres to API612 as well as API670 guidelines.
Micronet Plus —a flexible DCS addressing the rigorous requirements of prime mover control applications, such as gas, steam and hydro turbine control, as well as diesel and gas engine control.
Woodward’s Graphical Application Programmer (GAP) — Windows-based software that allows control engineers to create block format application programs for a number of Woodward control systems. This self-documenting software allows engineers to custom design a control system for any application.
NetSim — a simulation environment for GAP-generated control software that produces a virtual test stand on a desktop or laptop. This saves time and money by checking the operation of the application and finding problems before going to the field.
Varistroke-I — an integrated, linear, electro-hydraulic actuator for operation of steam turbine control valves or valve racks.