The current business operating culture is experiencing a sea change. Some are being brought on by local and global political shifts, but more is being brought about by a worldwide pandemic and the challenges of having properly trained people available to keep equipment running as expected. Lofty goals have been promulgated in boardrooms, investor meetings, and public relations campaigns, with only marginal guidance given to operations staff to reach those goals. In some cases, these goals are received as “pie in the sky” statements and dismissed in the field as unattainable. In reality, a lot of those goals can be met and exceeded with proper work practices.
Let’s start by stating some of these goals and see what it takes to meet them without requiring a huge overhaul of operations. Upgrading tools and introducing more complete training should be part of any company’s operating plan, so we will see how much impact can be made by implementing solid information and work techniques that can impact the output of the machines, the reduction of stress of maintenance, and the achieved realization of environmental compliance.
Methane Release Reduction
Several operators in the world have a stated goal of a 10% reduction year-over-year for methane releases. These releases come from several sources, whether they are production assets or transmission lines. Very sophisticated equipment has been developed over the years to spot and record leakage, sometimes sampling the air to find the smallest PPM (Parts per Million) of hydrocarbon escaping vessels and piping. That works great when all the “Bad Actors” have been eliminated, but the truth is that most sites have the kind of leaks that overwhelm this type of sensor and make it hard to pinpoint individual sources. Maybe taking a step back and relying on tools that are less sophisticated will have a larger impact. Technology, like the SDT SonaVu, can quickly find leaks and document the source for repair and verification. Some of these leaks are large enough that the first round of audits will yield a rate of reduction much greater than 10%. The only problem for the next audit would be to come up with the same rate of success if everything is already properly repaired!
Current emissions standards are calculated by how much CO (Carbon Monoxide), NOx (Oxides of Nitrogen), and VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) are generated and released in the exhaust stream of an engine, compared to the amount of Horsepower generated by that engine. Any sort of parasitic loss within the system requires that engine work harder to accomplish the work. Reducing that loss allows for more Horsepower to be used for production or provides a buffer for the working envelope of emissions. An engine that is working above rated Horsepower is actually working outside of that envelope because the permits involved are written specifically for the advertised power, nothing over that. So how can we reduce the amount of power needed from an engine to get it back into compliance?
Stay tuned for my next blog in this series where I discuss how to reduce the amount of power needed from an engine to get it back into compliance!
Maintenance Tips by Chris Greene CRL