Compensate for inflation to control the operating costs of your industrial steam plant
Peter Barge | November 7, 2022 | 4 min read
That said, we recognize that there are some hurdles when it comes to cost that are simply beyond your control—one of them being economic inflation.
The question is, what areas of your industrial plant operating costs can you look to in compensating with cost-saving strategies when inflation hits? That’s where our Steam Power team can step in and help.
Through the third quarter of 2022, inflation in the U.S. is persisting, with a year-over-year rate still hovering around 8%. In Canada, while the rate has started to retreat from second quarter levels, inflation is still just under 7% as of September. And across Latin America, projections for the balance of 2022 range from an inflation rate of 8-10% across the countries of the region. Undoubtedly, you’ve likely already felt the pricing effects of these statistics on your raw materials, fuel and various other contributors to your operating costs. So, let’s turn back to one business cost you do have more control over… what it takes to maintain your facility’s power equipment and minimize your downtime from production.
*Statistics as of September 2022
We understand that your most common services needs revolve around wear and tear with parts. Our industrial plant service offerings provide you with options when your parts need attention… whether it’s related to a planned outage or an emergency event. In either case, if your economics suggest a simple replacement is the best choice, our supply chain can step in and get what you need to your doorstep… fast. Even in cases when an unplanned part need emerges, we strive to deliver a customer quote within 24 hours. In other cases, our engineers can scope out a cost-effective repair solution—some of which can be done on site, that saves the time and money of investing in a new part. And perhaps most importantly, the experience our team brings to the table allows us to work with you to pinpoint ONLY the parts you need at any given time to minimize your investment, but still operate safely and reliably.
As your market demands and/or business strategy evolve, your plant production capacity needs can understandably shift in response. If this happens, the question becomes: Can you ‘right-size’ your plant equipment to continue operating efficiently?
Should you anticipate a long-term pull back in production demand, we can help identify solutions to adapt your power equipment for more efficient operation. Additionally, when your production runs more cyclically, it puts added stress on your equipment, which can shorten operating life. A large pulp and paper mill in the U.S. reached out to us for a major overhaul with new high-pressure section steam path components to derate their GE industrial steam turbine from 60 to 28 MW. They saw a performance improvement of ~6 MW in their main operating point on the same steam supply, and significantly reduced their water treatment costs due to a lowered demand for de-superheating.
Conversely, if your production needs are ramping up in a sustained way, similar technologies can be applied to help ensure you can maintain efficient fuel use and make the most of parts life when you’re operating around the clock. Our upgrade packages include reliability solutions, power uprates and redesigned turbines for revised flows. Solutions applying bucket and nozzle design innovations can also increase baseline efficiency, as well as steam path replacements to offset performance degradation.
One of the beauties of software technology is the predictive ability it can deliver. The best example of this in action for a plant like yours is a monitoring & diagnostic (M&D) service we’ve developed specifically for industrial operations. M&D technology gives you the power to see operating issues on the horizon; this could be abnormal vibration on a specific part or a broader system anomaly that may not be detected by operators or standard monitoring equipment. Our engineers can apply analytics to many millions of hours of fleet operating data to pinpoint potential impacts—such as a forced shutdown or a cascade of equipment damage—that similar anomalies seen in the past have caused if not addressed. M&D is a great example of how a small investment can deliver significant ROI in both the short and long term. Learn more about our industrial M&D service.
With over 25 years of experience, Peter Barge leads GE Steam Power’s technical sales team in delivering best-in-class-services for industrial steam plant customers in the Americas. He is also responsible for commercial and strategic sales deliverables, outage planning and proposal development for spare parts, services, repairs, upgrades, and multi-year agreements.
Avoid unplanned outages with monitoring and diagnostic (M&D) services. Discover how GE’s M&D services can keep your plant operating at peak performance.Read more