Boston Case Study

Case Study: Boston

A major power plant for a major US city was constructed a couple of years ago. The project was your typical large capital and heavily regulated project. A massive EPC was selected to do the FEED and then was awarded the project to build the facility. 

The goliath EPC sub-contracted the design, development, and procurement of the Fuel Gas System which supplies clean and stable natural gas for the power generation turbines. A compressor packager was selected and awarded the fabrication of the compressors and they, not being automation experts, subcontracted the control panel design, fabrication, and programming. 

After the extensive design, FATs, and what would become a painful commissioning (so much the EPC was thrown off the project) the plant was handed over to the owner. For the past two years the plant has operated fairly consistently but there have been some issues with the Fuel Gas Compressors. Periodically they would cause the turbines to shut down on high  high suction pressure. The plant owners had their internal engineers troubleshoot but the plant struggled with determining the root cause for these shutdowns. They changed the operations of the facility to include reducing the pressure they supplied the turbines (which decreases efficiency and power output aka $$) to try to minimize the events. For two years the facility operated in this reduced mode and still fought what seemed to be nuisance shutdowns. 

Finally, the plant was coming up on a major outage/turn-around. They talked with a few automation houses and didn’t come to any significant conclusion on how to move forward. Then, an internal engineer recommended an automation group (that’s us!) that he had worked with at a previous power plant. Quickly, phone calls were set up to discuss what was going on. 

We had 2 initial phone calls with the facility that outlined their issues w/ a few follow up questions and requests of deliverables. The power plant sent over their PLC programs, electrical documentation, and P&ID’s. After briefly reviewing we found their issue. We also found several more they hadn’t mentioned and a few they didn’t know about yet. Unfortunately, the compressor package was clearly a “canned” package and the steps needed to work in this application were not taken. 

After 2 days in the office followed by 2 days onsite (adjusting the local PLC/HMI programs and the plant DCS) the power plant is cranking power (at full power) and hasn’t had any signs of an issue. They now know they are in good hands and have brought us on with a long term contract and remote access to support them with all of their ongoing needs to include other areas of the plant(s). 

It’s not about it only taking a few days to fix the issue – it’s about the 20 years of experience that allowed us to only take a few days to fix the issue. Want to know what the issue was and how we resolved it? Give us a call. Have an issue that your folks are working around? Give us a call.

Do you have a similar story? Let’s hear it. We think there are a bunch of valuable lessons to be learned when talking about previous projects. Sometimes, the projects of the past are telling us the stories of projects in the future.

Drop us a note below and let’s catch up with your world or let us tell you what’s going on with ours. We look forward to it.