Tim Broadhurst, chief commercial officer at CooperOstlund, discusses the issues surrounding the planning and execution of major CHP overhauls and explains why a collaborative approach is key to minimising operational impact.

Continually running at maximum output, combined heat and power (CHP) engines are prone to extensive wear and tear. To prevent equipment failure and unnecessary engine downtime, regular maintenance must be carefully planned and executed.

While most CHP operators appreciate the necessity for regular operations and maintenance (O&M) support, undertaking milestone servicing and planned overhauls must be considered equally as critical. But with most major refurbs potentially falling outside the parameters of O&M contracts, it’s essential to consider the cost implications, carefully plan downtime and find an experienced partner to deliver on your behalf.

Following manufacturer guidelines

Skilled servicing is instrumental to the longevity of your CHP engine – the more regular and comprehensive, the better. But while maintaining your asset will maximise day-to-day performance, milestone services and major overhauls are essential to prevent more serious engine failings throughout the lifespan of your asset.

The frequency and complexity of milestone services depend somewhat on your engine manufacturer, energy output, warranty guidelines and feedstock type. Typically, they’re advised at intervals of every few thousand hours, with key tasks including spark plug replacements, oil changes, filter replacements, re-calibration, battery checks and emission testing.

Major overhauls, as the name suggests, are more comprehensive and require planned engine downtime. Usually taken out-of-frame (preferably at an authorised rebuild centre), key tasks can include full head refurbishments, alternator bearing changes, crank shaft replacements, container upgrades and comprehensive engine commissioning. A full overhaul will be necessary at around c.60,000 operational hours, but this depends entirely on manufacturer guidelines.

While a large capital expenditure, the benefits of major overhauls are two-fold. Firstly, you effectively ‘reset’ your engine to (almost) factory settings – improving generation efficiencies and alleviating the risk of failure. Secondly, you extend the lifespan of your asset, offsetting the need to invest in expensive new equipment more frequently than planned.

The pitfalls of failing to plan major overhauls

Major planned overhauls are not always covered by your service provider’s O&M agreement (even if you have a full scheduled maintenance package). This can generally be to suit the operator, but there are differing views on this for sure. To prevent any nasty surprises, careful planning from the outset is key.

It’s important to find a collaborative partner capable of undertaking the overhaul effectively, to the highest possible standard and with minimal impact to your day-to-day operations. With engine downtime directly impacting your bottom line, you don’t want to risk a sub-standard service, or be left high and dry waiting for your engine to return.

In addition, your overhaul supplier needs to have a proven track record, understand the idiosyncrasies of your engine and appreciate the exact requirements of your site. A one-size-fits-all approach is unfortunately all too common, yet fails to address the huge discrepancies between different sites and different engines.

Don’t forget to consider the opportunities

Alongside rebuilding your genset, the most beneficial overhauls consider the future application of your CHP engine and how best to support your site in the long-term.

Alongside repairs, refurbishments and replacements, planned downtime presents an ideal opportunity to advise possible ways to further improve engine efficiencies – for example, through the installation of electric turbo compounding (ETC) products.

By recovering waste energy from the exhaust to improve power density and fuel efficiency, ETC products make gas and diesel-powered gensets work more cleanly and effectively. The technology is equally suited to new-build and retrofit applications, for engines in the 150kW-2MW range. By integrating ETC technology with your engines, it’s possible to achieve enhanced power generation capacity efficiencies.

Alongside considering efficiency improvement technologies, planned overhauls also provide the necessary downtime to specify open protocol control panels. By replacing proprietary control systems with open protocol alternatives, your CHP engine can interoperate without the need for a proprietary interface or gateway. This allows engineers to easily control each setup without the need for specialist support and provides immediate digital access.

The added benefit of internet connectivity means engineers can even control engines from an off-site location, which further reduces costs and dramatically improves uptime. All in all, a long-term solution to improve site performance, which many overhaul providers would fail to suggest.

The importance of collaboration

At CooperOstlund, we pride ourselves on impartial consultancy and first-hand experience across almost every make of CHP engine. We offer bespoke solutions to our clients, taking their engine and site requirements into careful consideration.

Each overhaul is personal, bespoke and delivered to the highest standards; preventing unnecessary downtime, duplication of work or unrealistic timescales. What’s more, we prioritise your engine, to a timescale that suits your business, with minimal impact on your operations. Our commitment is to get your engine up-and-running in the shortest possible timeframe.

Through our highly-skilled team of national CHP engineers, we offer the market’s most comprehensive in-house major planned overhaul provision. We do this by approaching every project with the following five values:

  1. Personalisation – We focus on the client and the individual engine, not simply ticking boxes for the manufacturer. Each overhaul is personal, bespoke and delivered to the highest standards; with the customer kept at the heart of the process.
  1. Flexibility – We work in partnership with each of our clients to understand their exacting requirements, which enables us to advise a planned, measured site-specific overhaul solution. This prevents unnecessary downtime, duplication of work or unrealistic timescales.
  1. Reactivity – We’re flexible enough to prioritise your engine, to a timescale that suits your business, with minimal impact on your operations. Our commitment is to get your engine up-and-running in the shortest possible timeframe.
  1. Adaptability – We’re mixed fleet experts and provide a one stop shop for clients operating different engine types across multiple sites. When others tell you it can’t be done, we show you that it can!
  1. Innovation – We have extensive open protocol control capabilities across multiple engine types. We provide unmatched engine management solutions and guarantee total fleet control at the touch of a button.

A key part of your CHP lifecycle, major overhauls need to be considered a priority from the outset. By partnering with an expert, you can safeguard the future of your site and use planned downtime as an opportunity to invest in long-term revenues. It’s essential, however, for the entire process to be collaborative. It has to work for you, your site, your engine and your objectives.