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The Western Turbine Users Inc. (WTUI) Conference 2011 took place in Palm Springs, California in March. This user group exists to provide members a forum for the exchange of technical, operations and maintenance information and experience to improve reliability and economic viability of GE LM series power facilities. While attendance was slightly down, it is maintaining a generally higher range above 900 attendees. 300 first time attendees were among the crowd.
The event consisted of several facets – a vendor fair with over 100 booths, a series of general sessions that were open to everyone, a product update from GE, and several days of sessions for users only that covered every conceivable aspect of the care and maintenance of the various LM turbines.
The LM5000 track, for instance, began with an overview of the engine fleet. 103 units are out there, having accumulated over 7 million operating hours. The fleet leader has over 180,000 hours. About two thirds are in the Americas.
Highlights from the other breakout tracks included:
LMS100: control system glitches and logistic work-arounds were some of the primary topics.
LM6000: fracturing of gearbox seals, water and oil getting into the fuel system, sticky fuel valves, water washing best practices (including only wash offline) and SPRINT system filter issues came under discussion.
LM2500: Dry Low Emissions combustor (DLE) baffles and liners came under scrutiny due to cracking.
Each of the authorized GE depots delivered a presentation to the gathering. Representatives from TransCanada Turbines, Avio of Italy, IHI of Japan, MTUI and ANZGT all spoke. Uwe Kaltwasser, a sales and customer support manager for MTU in the U.S., introduced a new Level II shop just opened in Braunfels, TX.
Consisting of 8500 square feet facility, it will enable the company to conduct many repairs within the USA as opposed to shipping engines to the company’s Level IV shop in Berlin. There, the company can conduct testing under real load conditions using a 55 MW generator. The company is also authorized to modify an LM6000 PA to a PC. TransCanada also announced a new Level IV shop which will open this May in Calgary.
While the authorized depots are strong, GE continues to get stronger in the service delivery area. Dave VanderShee, a customer support manger for GE Aero Energy, briefed the Western Turbine Users on new service centers around the globe.
“We have opened Level II centers in Kaluga, Russia and in Lincoln, England this year,” said VanderShee. “Another Level II shop will be opened in Perth, Australia next year.”
Perhaps more importantly, a Level IV center will be added in Petropolis, Brazil in September as the only Latin American Level IV shop for aeroderivatives. It will begin with LM6000 work and then expand across the LM spectrum later. The company’s Houston facility (opened last year) has been established for rapid response and it is being expanded by 50% this year. Over in Europe, the GE Rheden shop in the Netherlands has been beefed up to handle over 200 engines per year.
(More in the May/June 2011 issue of Turbomachinery International Magazine)