SKF spearheads maintenance efficiency in Chinese heat and power plant
“I selected SKF in order to make the Jiaxing New Jies plant one of the leaders and an industry standard in combined heating and power (CHP) generation, regarding maintenance efficiency.”
This ambitious statement came from Ji Rong Lin, the plant's executive general manager, whose location in the Zhejiang province southwest of Shanghai supplies approximately 112,000 KW/hour of electricity into the national electricity grid and 400 tons/hour of steam for central heating to local community houses, as well as to a hospital, a government building and many factories, in a 15-kilometre radius of the power plant.
“It is essential for my company, and indeed the entire the Chinese CHP industry, to move up the ladder of excellence in this very important business aspect and to continue to do so in the future,” he says. “Maintenance efficiency is a large contributor to operational cost efficiency, safety, energy efficiency and reduced impact to the environment. And all these factors are extremely paramount for all in the industry, as well as our wide variety of customers.”
Maintenance efficiency is a relatively young science in many parts of the world and in many industries. And China belongs to a large number of countries where opportunity is high, and ambition is high to reap the rewards that an experienced and professional approach can bring. The desire for those rewards was the thinking behind Ji’s plan, when he decided to embark on a search for an excellent partner to install a new approach to his maintenance strategy and operations, and train his staff to maximize the output from the opportunity.
In search of a professional partner
Local Chinese companies active in maintenance services could provide some of the support Ji envisioned, but he felt there was more to be achieved. He wanted a partner that could handle the management objectives from a single perspective with regard to his total plant assets and a total advanced maintenance approach, and not in a series of separate and uncoordinated projects. In addition he wanted to engage a company using the very latest maintenance practices, from which his own personnel could learn, because part of his own business philosophy is to develop into a knowledge-based company with continuous improvement as a core activity.
His search brought him in contact with Liang Dong, asset management services manager with SKF China, part of the worldwide SKF Group. Dong had presented at a maintenance conference attended by one of Mr Ji’s senior managers. Impressed by the ‘total and modern approach’ described in the SKF presentation, and their clear success, experience, and knowledge applied in many other industries around the world, the manager set up a first meeting at the New Jies plant.
“Directly after our first meeting I knew SKF could provide what we needed,” Ji said. “The scope of the proposal made by Dr. Dong covered all my areas of concern, and even some that were new to me. It was apparent that SKF had deep professional experience how to enter an organisation like mine and transform the entire maintenance philosophy from the traditional one, where long-serving people were the knowledge sources, into one where processes, new maintenance practices, benchmark comparisons, well documented data, knowledge sharing etc provide the basis for progress. Of course we have a good level of traditional time-based maintenance operations, but I want that level to be pushed continually higher! By working with SKF my people will get exposure to proven and applied advanced concepts and methodologies in the area of condition based maintenance, root cause failure analysis and reliability-centered maintenance.”
Project from creation to training and implementation
The scope of the project involves the setting up of a fully computerized enterprise asset management (EAM) system, setting up data gathering methods and routines, training and supporting the New Jies personnel in the use of the new system, reviewing and updating the maintenance strategy to improve work efficiency, defining damage and failure levels of all assets — especially critical items — defining spare parts and inventory needs, and developing key performance indicators (KPIs).
All machinery and equipment requiring maintenance, including linear assets such as steam transmission piping, will be identified and ‘tagged’ according to the Power Plant Industry standard KKS coding, and entered into a new computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). The electronic storing of data and the coding structure allows faster and consistent access and tracking of all maintainable plant assets and their maintenance history, by any authorized personnel at the New Jies plant. Compared to the current paper-based, manual system for storing and retrieving data this will increase tremendously the speed of maintenance operations and give much greater guarantee of always having the latest information available on any asset – which leads to better decision making regarding maintenance. And, faster and more efficient maintenance decisions and actions have a large and direct positive affect on the financial performance of all manufacturing and process industries, including thermal power.
The project is run with very close cooperation between the SKF team and the New Jies maintenance team. Five SKF persons are involved in the project and, on average, two to three SKF persons are on-site every day. The close proximity of the SKF team and the New Jies team maintains the pace of progress and allows all questions and concerns to be immediately attended to. Weekly project reports from SKF keep everyone updated, and documents generated during the project are uploaded to a shared file server at the plant, for further detailed inspection, discussion or action. A monthly meeting covers all ‘progress against plan’ issues and looks into any aspect where mutual discussion is needed to decide the next steps.
The project is running on schedule, and Ji says, “I am very happy with the progress so far. While it will take time before we can assess the effect of the new maintenance approach, I am convinced it will deliver everything we expect. Already we are benefiting from a high degree of ‘injected knowledge’ from SKF and all my maintenance staff are extremely positive. There is a very much increased ‘air of confidence’ in my people and the cooperation and attitude from both teams is very high. My team know they are working with real professionals from whom they are learning a lot. And the final result will be a system that is their own, one that they will manage, and one that will lift the asset efficiency level in the company. They are working very hard and looking forward to delivering the bottom line results we aim for.”
Delivering beneficial results on an even bigger scale
As well as the range of results Ji expects for his company in the short term he is looking ahead. His company plan to install two more boilers and another turbo-generator set that will increase annual capacity by 160 million KWh of electricity and 500,000 tons of steam, and allow more of the local community to utilize the power plant output.
“I am very keen to complete this maintenance project and see my people applying the new systems, methodologies and knowledge,” he says. “I am really excited at the prospect of being one of the leaders in maintenance in this area, with the help of SKF.”