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The combined cycle plant doctors

News 2 July, 2012

* Author: Jacinto Pérez *

I’m lucky enough to form part of Iberdrola’s Turbogenerator Inspection team, which is located in Castellón and maintains and monitors the state of the gas and steam turbines in the company’s combined cycle plants in Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, Latvia, and of course in Spain. I say I’m lucky, because working in this department has been a real challenge for me as it marked a watershed in the competences of our company when we were authorised to carry out work which was initially only within reach of the equipment manufacturers.

Thanks to the work of my colleagues and myself, Iberdrola has made a quantitative and qualitative leap forward in the operation and maintenance of these installations, leading to improved competitiveness, lower costs and shorter repair times, in addition to creating some highly technically skilled jobs within the company.

My work is based on four fundamental pillars: safety for individuals, permanent communication and transparency with the facilities, quality in the performance of the work, and a constant exchange of knowledge and best practices. It was in 1999 when the company first had the idea of creating a department of this nature, coinciding with the development of the first combined cycle plant in the Iberdrola Group, but it was not until 2006 that we succeeded in making it into what it is today.

This department has undergone a major evolution and has increased from a staff of four –whose primary function was to supervise and monitor the quality of the companies engaged in maintenance– to over 20 specialists today who draw up their own inspection procedures and carry out the inspections completely independently under the most rigorous quality standards. Of course, to carry out this work we have the support of professionals from the staff throughout the fleet, and are supplied with spare parts by the manufacturer.

One of the most important challenges that we took on was in 2010 in the plant at Arcos de la Frontera, where we carried out our first inspection of combustion parts. In 2011, in this same facility, we succeeded in taking a further step forward in technical complexity and made an inspection of the complete gas turbine, which is an inspection of much greater scope which is done every 24,000 hours of operation. In order to accomplish this task, all the members of the team had to relocate to the power plant for over a month, working in two shifts to cover the 24 hours of the day in order to minimise the machine’s downtime, together with the staff from the plant itself and from other combined cycle plants.

In addition to the technical knowledge we’ve acquired, another important factor I’ve observed is internationalisation. The integration of all the electricity generation activities under a single management has enabled us to transfer our knowledge and experience to all the other regions where we have a presence, as well us exposing us to other technologies and to best practices in working methods and in the prevention of workplace hazards.

We’re currently embarking on new goals such as our first inspection involving the extraction of the generator rotor in the plant in Castejón (Navarre), the inspection of the turbine in the plant in Castellón, and the inspection schedule for the 48,000 hours of operation in the plant inTarragona. By completing these projects we’ll have covered every type of maintenance necessary on the turbines, and will have achieved total independence from the manufacturer in the area of inspections, thereby gaining a clear competitive advantage.

This year we are also scheduled to take part in the major inspection of turbines 1 and 2 in Damhead Creek (United Kingdom), which will provide us with extremely valuable experience in the technology of the manufacturer Mitsubishi.

I’m very satisfied with my work, as by applying the knowledge and experience of my colleagues and myself this department contributes added value to the group both at the national and international level, thus proving the fact that no one invests more determination and quality in their work than the employees of Iberdrola themselves.

Author: Jacinto Pérez
Bio: I’m a graduate in advanced engineering from the Higher Technical School of Industrial Engineering in Bilbao and in AMP from the Business Institute. I joined Iberdrola in 1990, and have held a variety of positions both in the operation and maintenance of the thermal power plants in Santurce and Castellón, and in the combined cycle plant in Castellón. I am currently head of the Turbogenerator Inspection Department.

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