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Products and solutions, 2005-06-15, 02:18 PM

Inspection at CHP Munich north

Power plant or refinery: 100-percent availability from such high capital-outlay and energy-intensive complexes is an absolute must. And this is why processors and energy generators insist on highly skilled maintenance services for their safety-critical production plants. This is a challenge accepted by ThyssenKrupp Plant Services, a nationwide maintenance contractor among whose clients for years now has been the combined heat & power plant Munich north, where the company is presently performing scheduled inspection on unit 1.

?We handle all the various jobs related to the dismantling and re-assembly of the individual components and virtually everything else connected with maintenance and repair engineering,? says Andreas Freutsmiedl, head of the southern region at ThyssenKrupp Plant Services. At the Munich combined heat & power plant, ThyssenKrupp Plant Services has a permanent base normally staffed by ten to twenty engineers. Fittings, valves, dampers, boilers, gear units, heat exchangers, pumps, ventilators, fans, electric filters, absorbers, conveyor belts and even the cranes that handle the waste - the engineers maintain and repair most everything. Their work is scheduled and coordinated by the plant?s own maintenance department which allocates the daily tasks and provides most of the materials and replacement parts from its own general stores.

All the ancillary jobs such as scaffold erection, cleaning, insulation - these are also in the hands of the power plant operators. ?The situation here is somewhat different from a refinery, for example where it is commonplace for all the organization and performance of a shutdown to be outsourced to a third party,? adds Freutsmiedl. ?Such a trend is only just beginning to emerge among the power plants where until now, management and engineering functions have been sourced inhouse and where the maintenance jobs, in particular, are being farmed out to third-party experts.?

Continuous competition

ThyssenKrupp Plant Services may have a permanent presence at the power plant, this doesn?t mean, however, that it is automatically contracted to perform new jobs. The general agreement concluded with the power plant simply details the basic specifications, acting as a working catalogue in which standardized jobs are priced. It is certainly not a job guarantee and definitely not for major inspections and shutdowns. ?Basically, we have to re-demonstrate our quality and efficiency day by day,? is how Josef Mayer, head of the Munich base, sums up the situation. Still, as long as we deliver quality and reliable maintenance work, the customer has little reason to be dissatisfied with the services rendered.

Alongside the daily influx of one-off jobs and repairs in the event of component failures, the power plant awards annual contracts for certain repetitive and regular maintenance jobs. Also put out for tender are the individual activities relating to the separate plant inspections in the course of which throughout the year five combustion lines are switched off, one after the other, serviced and, where necessary, repaired. ?One of the jobs is to overhaul and fit new seals to the large valves and fittings in the boiler areas and this kind of work means negotiating a fixed price,? explains Josef Mayer.

Affected by this particular inspection are the waste incinerators, the flue-gas scrubber, the feed water system, and the entire steam system. It is the operator that stipulates the details of the inspection routine on the basis of which the maintenance engineers map out a specified maintenance and action plan with labor assignments. Replacing a large rubber gasket on an absorber is a job that might well take four people two days to complete. On the other hand, there are also dozens of small steam valves that need removal, overhauling, and re-installation. The range of chores is broad and calls for in-depth expertise. Says Mayer: ?Our crew is trained in everything and hence flexible on the job while for the very tricky tasks, we always have a specialist on hand.? After all, ThyssenKrupp Plant Services is a lot more than simply a maintenance contractor able to work with valves and fittings or service a certain make of pumps.?

On-the-job flexibility

?As services provider we also need to be flexible and efficient in our HR planning,? is how Freutsmiedl sums up the advantages of third-party services. During the inspection and depending on the magnitude of the work, the permanent on-site crew is supported by more than double as many of their coworkers. These are chiefly highly skilled pipe fitters and mechanics with longstanding experience in power plant and refinery engineering and with the corresponding safety certificates. ?This is our strong point,? says Freutsmiedl, ?We have a large contingent of highly qualified specialists, engineers, and foremen, and with such a broad array of skills, they are able to work in more or less every type of industry.? All of them have amassed experience working with safety-critical components and plants in the chemical and petrochemical industries, with refineries and power plants all of which share the same tough standards of safety when it come to maintenance jobs. In-depth training courses make sure that the work is carried out to the required standard of quality in compliance with safety codes and regulations such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and the very strict STC (Safety Certificate Contractors).

As a consequence there are very few jobs at the power plant that the Plant Services employees do not perform. Electrical and instrumentation stuff, for instance, is handled by the plant?s own workshop and also the heart of the power plant, the gigantic steam turbines, are left to specialty firms?mostly their makers. Even though the range of services on offer is already incomparably wide, Plant Services wants to lengthen its menu to include, for instance, welding, a sector in which the company aims to further develop its skills to embrace large-scale boiler repairs which can then be carried out under its own responsibility. ?Our goal is to provide all-in services from a single source.?

The CHP plant Munich north
At Unterföhring, the Munich utility operates the combined heat & power plant north, its biggest complex consisting of three independent units each capable of operating in combined heat/power mode. Unit #2 is the largest energy generator and annually converts around 800,000 tonnes of hard coal into electricity and heat. The two other units are fed with residual waste.

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