Condition-monitoring of turbines and gas generators is crucially important to ensure that they can continue to operate safely, reliably and efficiently – but shutting them down to do the necessary inspections of their deep internal workings is time-consuming and expensive. Borescopes offer a safe and cost-effective solution to this challenge.
The power generation industry (including windpower and hydropower) relies on turbines for the uninterrupted production of energy and to ensure that any additional power sources are in good working order so they can be brought online as and when needed.
Inspections need to go deep into the internal spaces of the turbines to check for material degradation including oxidisation, corrosion and thermal cracking. Whilst the operating principle of the turbines themselves is fairly straightforward, many of the component parts are highly specialised and operate within very narrow tolerance parameters so there is no room for error.
Gas turbines also work at extremely high temperatures which is a major contributor to the degradation of components and which further compounds the risks associated with condition-monitoring inspections.
The turbine manufacturers establish performance data which set the baseline against which future inspections are evaluated, and these include variables such as temperature, vibration, pressure and outputs. A well-planned and professionally conducted maintenance programme is essential to ensure that turbines continue to meet these optimum standards set by the manufacturers, but shut-downs to dismantle the unit in order to access the internal parts are time-consuming and extremely costly.
Equipment can be out of action for weeks and often the inspection process reveals that there are actually no problem areas and that the turbine is in good working condition.
Borescopes are time-saving tools that can be used to inspect the innermost parts of turbines safely and quickly and without requiring the need for costly shutdowns. They gather valuable information about the unit’s operability and experienced service engineers can then evaluate whether further action is necessary. Repairs can be done during a scheduled shutdown, saving time and money. This also presents an opportunity for the facility managers to make any improvements or install any upgrades during the planned outage that will improve the asset’s efficiency and performance and increase its longevity.
Different borescopes have different measuring capabilities and if an initial sweep reveals any anomalies, operations can always rent a higher-end device such as a metrology-capable borescope for more detailed inspections without having to make a substantial investment.
In short, borescopes offer many advantages including:
- Ease of use
- High definition still images and/or video
- Highly accurate. Some devices can identify a defect within a turbine as small as 0.0001mm.
- Impressive coverage. Flexible and articulating borescopes have longer reaches than rigid devices and can access distant areas (some can reach over 60m) without compromising detail or accuracy.
- Advanced software programming
Borescopes have simplified what is a challenging and potentially dangerous job – inspecting gas turbines – and made the whole process much safer, faster and more efficient. If you’d like expert advice on which borescope would be best suited for your operation’s inspection needs, get in touch with the professionals at Nexxis.