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Energy & Utilities

Managing uncertainty factors with gas turbine machine train shaft alignment

23 Oct 2018, by Amy Sarcevic

Shaft alignment is integral to rotor dynamic health within a gas turbine. Shaft misalignment leaves turbines exposed to reaction forces in the shaft couplings, plus bearing and seal damage, with down time costing millions of dollars each day. Despite this, details as ‘fine’ as shaft realignment are rarely incorporated into turnkey contracts.

Ahead of the Gas Turbines Conference, Bryan Rodgers of Aquip Systems warns that overlooking such detail can present a number of issues further down the track.

“There are a number of contract uncertainty factors to be mindful of,” said Bryan.

“For example, repeatability and accuracy of alignment results; alignment specification errors and anomalies; excessively tight manufacturers’ tolerances; and dodgy calibration certificates for laser alignment equipment.”

Without contractual certainty in these areas, serious conflicts of interest can arise between the asset owner, main contractor, subcontractor, manufacturer and workers on the turbine machine train. This can result in significant cost and time wastage, Bryan warned..

“In these instances, the asset owner seems powerless to effect change, with the turnkey contractor often preferring to steer their own course,” he said.

Bryan is the former owner and a current employee of Aquip systems. He has observed these contractual disputes crop up on “countless occasions” throughout his 31-year laser shaft alignment career.

He believes the time has come for a collective industry discussion on how to best prevent them.

“The problems that we are discussing are not unique to Australia but if we are to attract investors to build new projects in Australia and be competitive in the world arena we must be much more efficient,” he said.

“Without whole-of-sector discussion and agreement – perhaps even regulation – conflicts of interest with regard to contractual obligations (or lack thereof) will continue to inhibit industry progress”.

Bryan will open up debate on this issue at the Gas Turbines Conference – due to take place 28 -29 November in Perth.

Learn more and register.

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