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Energy Service xxxxx


A Big Brain
for Power Plant
Remote diagnostics xes problems, some-
times before they happen, and boosts peak
performance in generation even in remote
areas such as the Moroccan desert.
Text: Eric Johnson Photos: Jann Averwerser

Our main aim is to have the power plant, especially its turbines,
I n artificial intelligence, what
once was science fiction is
now science fact. Already in
In less-celebrated circumstances of or-
dinary life, this insight already is be-
ing applied. In healthcare, for in-
300 electric plants around the world
to run more safely and better. Their
influence is only set to increase. operating at the highest levels of performance and availability. We
1996, a supercomputer called Deep stance, Watson has since gone on to
Blue beat the then world champion work for an insurance company, of- I, Not Quite Robot try to keep costs as low as possible while maximizing output. Our tool
Garry Kasparov in a regulation fering guidance in the management Not that they are called smart bots.
match of chess. By 2011, another su- of lung cancer treatment; and with Neither do they have individual for that is remote diagnostics this has some high-performance tools
percomputer named Watson had success his human supervisor told names like Deep Blue or Watson. Nor
bested the top (human) players of Forbes magazine that 90 percent of do they function without consider- that work automatically to support the operators in the control room,
the television game show Jeopardy the nurses involved routinely follow able human involvement (then again,
to win the first prize of US$1 million. the Jeopardy winners instructions. neither do Deep Blue nor Watson, who must attend and respond to a vast number of signals.
Behind these lighthearted publicity The power generation industry also which are serviced by numerous hu-
stunts lies an undeniable truth: In benefits from artificial intelligence. man programmers). But the principle Stefan Pernau, Group Leader, Power Diagnostics Services
some areas of knowledge, comput- Smart bots built by Siemens are al- behind Remote Diagnostics Services
ers really can outthink a person. ready in action, helping some (RDS) is identical: to draw on massive u

64 Living Energy No. 9 | December 2013 Living Energy No. 9 | December 2013 65
Energy Service Energy Service

amounts of data in order to enable RDS sees things at a says CEO Jos Luis Pastor of Moroccan Diagnostics a Global Tool
better decisions. power generator Energy Electric of
Massive is not an exaggeration. A distance that our Tahaddart. So if we have a problem,
typical generating plant looked after we will have the whole of Siemens The principle of remote diagnostics applying artificial intelligence to
by Siemens Power Diagnostics, says operator cannot see. experience available to solve that operations and maintenance is not unique to the Siemens Energy Service
Group Lead Stefan Pernau, records on problem. That gives me peace of Division, which has so far connected RDS to about 600 gas turbine and
the order of 100,000 measurements Glen Fallon, CEO of Siemens Plant mind. Siemens is backing us with its steam turbine units it monitors. The service is also offered to other Energy
every day. It measures temperatures, Operations Tahaddart SARL entire company through this RDS. Service customers in oil & gas, industrial applications, and renewable
pressures, revolutions, speeds, and power. Moreover, its part of the Siemens offering to customers of other
timings at a level of detail that is far Pickin Up Bad Vibrations businesses such as medical scanners and high-speed trains.
beyond the capacity of even the most Then the computer goes to work. With applications at Siemens ranging Therefore, all those groups are clubbing together to craft a global tool, a
experienced operators brain. Every Trends over time are identified and from wind turbines to medical scan- common core of software that can be used to diagnose problems and
day at midnight local time, a core dump compared to the plants own history ners, RDS monitors many phenomena, performance company-wide. Called Advanced Diagnostic System (ADS), it
of those measurements (not all of and to operating records of other, but in nearly every field one stands is now in pilot testing with a broader debut expected in 2016. Drawing on
them that is still too much to be similar plants. In effect, the accumu- front and center: vibration. This is a knowledge from all of Siemens, it will be a big brain indeed.
transferred routinely) is delivered lated wisdom of Siemens is brought frequent harbinger of bad behavior,
through the Internet, e.g., to Pernaus to bear to check the days work. This, including the notorious trip, when
team in Mlheim, Germany, or a mir- Pernau points out, is far beyond what a turbine shuts down completely.
ror group located in Orlando, Florida, any operator (or person, for that matter) Modern turbines are so highly pow- Remote Diagnostics Services
in the USA. could be expected to do. Trends ered and finely tuned that they have (RDS) from Siemens help keeping
might be very subtle, such as a tem- little tolerance for outliers. A small power plants around the world
perature creep in a certain unit of change in vibration conditions, Per- up and running.
0.1 C every day for ten days straight, nau cautions, can lead to massive
or a switch turning on milliseconds problems. Living Energy at
late. They might be fiendishly complex, The second most popular target for
requiring complicated algorithms analysis, after vibration, is not a neg-
or case-based reasoning to unravel. ative, but a positive. Operators are
They also might be insignificant, just keen to see detailed analyses of ther-
random fluctuations within an modynamic process monitoring, better
acceptable range. known to laypeople as efficiency and
What RDS does is to sift and to sort performance. This is the second as-
the measurements, flag potential prob- pect of RDS: not finding a problem to
lems, and post those to a protected fix, but helping the best to get even
dashboard or expert system that the better. With the help of deep comput-
human teams consult when they ing, Power Diagnostics can try to not see, says CEO Glen Fallon, and
show up for work in the morning. The identify which of the 100,000 condi- give us advance warning of problems.
Power Diagnostics people then take tions should be tweaked, and how, to We want to avoid unnecessary trips
matters further, usually ordering up get more output from the inputs, and and outages that would cost money
even more masses of data from the to generate power exactly in accor- and power which they really need in
on-site recorder and starting discus- dance with specifications or even Morocco.
sions with on-site operators or expert above. Obviously, RDS is not capable of
colleagues throughout the Siemens RDS also helps to watch the watch- fixing the problem itself, which
network. ers by policing a power plants sensors. shows the ongoing need for coopera-
Not many years ago, this remote analy- A recent example occurred in the tion between man and machines.
sis would have been impossible. Band- RDS-connected plant at Tahaddart Operators have absolutely critical
widths were simply too narrow to ac- that is operated by Siemens person- jobs to do, Pernau notes. RDS is
If we have a problem, we can call on commodate the torrents of data now nel. Because two sensors had become not at all about replacing them, but
being funneled to Mlheim and Orlan- waterlogged, they were erroneously about helping them to do that job
the whole of Siemens experience. do. The knowledge base was too diffuse signaling for the turbine to be shut better than ever. p
and undocumented, and the comput- down. However, RDS analysis suggest-
Siemens is backing us with its entire ing power required for such number ed they were crying wolf. An on-site op-
crunching was not available. But now erator investigated, sorted out the
company through RDS.
Photo: Siemens

the right blocks are in place, and they problem, and averted a pointless Eric Johnson writes about technology,
business, and the environment from Zurich.
just keep getting bigger and stronger. shutdown. Formerly he headed what is now a
Customers have noticed. I know that RDS is able to look from a distance Thomson Reuters bureau and corresponded for
Jos Luis Pastor, CEO, Energy Electric of Tahaddart
we are monitored from Germany, at things that our operator here can- McGraw-Hill World News.

66 Living Energy No. 9 | December 2013 Living Energy No. 9 | December 2013 67