Prior to Gecko’s partnership with the customer utility, there had been an unplanned outage event which caused 20,000 customers to lose power. The outage caused total electric production output to drop by 55.6% for the plant. As a result, the plant was looking to complete a full inspection of a variety of their plant assets to reduce the likelihood of a recurring outage.
To maximize value and minimize inspection time during their planned outage, the plant decided to work with Gecko’s robotic inspection solution. As a coal power plant, reducing costs and outage events are vital to the continued operation of the plant, as political and environmental pressure to significantly reduce emissions while maintaining cost per KwH advantages over renewable energy. In addition, significantly reducing outages help maintain the electricity production dependability advantage of coal over inconsistent renewable energies.
To achieve these lofty goals, a complete inspection of the plant assets was essential. Executing inspections on the entire fleet of assets was a challenge, given that some of the assets and asset sections were not able to be inspected via robotic methods. The solution involved an innovative approach by the Gecko Robotics Inspection Team (GRIT).
One of the most important features of every Gecko Inspection Team is the use inspectors minimally certified to NDT Level II, for every inspection that is completed. This ensures an added layer of inspection knowledge, as opposed to industry untrained robotic operators. For this inspection, the list of assets summarized below required extensive power plant knowledge:
To solve the megawatt reducing outage, our inspectors focused on the integrity of the boiler tubes located on waterwalls and manways of each of the two units Gecko inspected. With the flat orientation of the waterwalls, inspecting these components was executed using Gecko’s TOKA 3 robots. For the manways, the two-person GRITs conducted manual UT inspections to go with the robotic UT and visual inspection deliverables.
The inspections, completed within weeks of the purchase agreement, revealed tube-level corrosion issues that plant maintenance staff could quickly address. Gecko’s inspection speed ensured that all boiler tube issues could be repaired during one outage. Three-dimensional color-coded visualizations make boiler tube identification quick and easy. The customer was so impressed with the work that in the year that followed, the plant maintained operations and has engaged with Gecko for continued inspection initiatives. In the end, this helped plant personnel address asset integrity issues and minimized outages.