Online Article

Maximizing Assets and Resources by Employing Predictive Maintenance in Power Plants

December 30, 2012

Successfully operating and maintaining power plants is an ongoing challenge, but Dan Gray has accomplished this since 1972 in dozens of plants, both as a full-timer and consultant, because he remains committed to principles that still hold true - even in today's changing industry environment.

Gray, 59, Director of Operations - Generation, for Rosebud Operating Services, Inc., oversees operation and maintenance for two fossil fuel power plants in Montana. He will participate in two sessions at the marcus evans Power Plant Operations & Maintenance Excellence Conference, January 23-24, 2013, at the Crowne Plaza Dallas Market Center in Dallas, TX.

Though Gray has seen the industry trending toward predictive maintenance for years, he says complacency too often exists among upper management to simply think short-term and only act when breakdowns occur. He calls it an "archaic mentality" that exists for a variety of reasons: lack of funds, lack of knowledge, pressure to produce to maintain profits, and more. In his 10 years as a consultant, Gray was sometimes amazed at the poor quality of some operations.

"It's a mentality that's difficult for me to accept," he says. "I've been to places where it looked like a bomb went off because they didn't take care of their equipment. They'd say they didn't have the money, the time, the manpower, the support."

In other instances, a company would run a redundant piece of equipment to failure because they knew they had a backup, then only when the backup failed would they repair that one. Other companies, due to lack of funds, would focus only upon the more critical pieces of equipment like the turbine generator, and do nothing about the other equipment. Running an efficient, reliable power plant takes a concerted effort on many levels - a price too many are unwilling to pay, according to Gray.

"Do you want to be chasing your tail all your life?" he asks. "But if you do the reliability-type predictive maintenance and stay ahead in the long-term, it will be more cost effective."

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