Who is in control?

Turbomachinery Magazine, July/August 2020,

Control – always a hot topic. The reds and blues fight for control of Congress. There will be a monumental battle for control of the U.S. come the November election. And of course, there are currently a whole lot of people telling us what we can and cannot do, where we can and cannot go and who we can meet – if anyone at all.

Like political control, turbomachinery controls are dynamic and changing. That is the subject of our cover story. A wave of innovation has swept across the controls and instrumentation field recently. We’ve talked about many of these technologies for years. But they were never quite ready for prime time. Many of them have now reached sufficient maturity to be trusted by plant operators and fleet owners.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), digitalization, microprocessors, new software platforms, the cloud, advanced analytics, machine learning, wireless technology, mobility, connectivity, augmented reality, virtualization, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, big data, Software-as-a-Service and many other breakthroughs have advanced the field like never before. This has given rise to enhanced capabilities for remote monitoring and operation, digital twins, remote field service, maintenance automation, real-time plant and fleet management and tighter inventory control. Those harnessing these tools report fewer unscheduled outages, and longer plant and equipment lifespans.

"Turbomachinery software and controls are destined to be a hot area of the market for some time to come."

In these times of dire forecasts about turbine sales and slow market recoveries, it appears that software and controls are destined to be a hot area for some time to come. Those holding onto aging turbines without replacement should at least want to operate them with the latest controls. Similarly, the business world at large is adopting these tools in a big way. Whether from head office, partners, customers or rivals, pressure will inevitably mount to adopt the latest control and instrumentation software capabilities. Those looking for market growth, or for an avenue to replace lost revenue, would do well to look into how they can utilize these technologies to add value, bring about greater connectivity and better serve their users.

The issue is otherwise packed with goodies. We have a follow-up story to our May/June cover story on Covid-19. Things appear less grim and many are seeing a slow return to normality. There is also an overview article on Power-to-X: an umbrella term for various approaches to the conversion, storage and reconversion pathways that take advantage of surplus electric power from renewable energy (typically from solar during the day or wind at night). The X stands for the type of energy into which the electricity surplus is being converted. This is generally gases, liquids or heat.

Further feature article topics include how to upgrade centrifugal compressors using inlet guide vanes, a more efficient way to conduct LNG regasification, offshore air filtration, how to repurpose aging turbines into synchronous condensers, and best practices for boiler and HRSG upgrades. Columns take up subjects such as a summary of recent webinars, gearbox trends, turbomachinery startup and post-commissioning, and the differences between the storage and transportation of energy.

Changes

After close to two decades at the helm, our publisher Richard Zanetti has retired. Richard’s leadership revived the fortunes of the magazine and made it what it is today. Richard is replaced as publisher by Mike Tracey, a veteran of the publishing field.

Further changes at the magazine: Our new associate editor Rory Pasquariello has taken over the online and newsletter functions from Kalyan Kalyanaraman. Kalyan is thanked for his many years of service. You can find Rory’s email address in the masthead. Please add him to your press distribution list.

We hope to have a chance to visit your booths sometime in the near future – perhaps at PowerGen, if not before. Wishing you all good fortune in your efforts to emerge from this period of economic turmoil.

Let’s get back to work! ■