After working hard to meet tight deadlines, in November 2014 the Brindisi plant began overhaul and maintenance operations on LM family engines (essentially LM2500 and LM6000 series aeroderivative turbines) installed on large ships and in industrial facilities or used for energy production.
As envisaged by the Atlas project which led to the creation of this new hub in Brindisi, many of the turbines arrive from GE Power & Water facilities and from customers worldwide, including leading players such as Electrabel, Statoil, Tamoil, BP and Petronas. Four LM2500 and two LM6000 engines have arrived at our Brindisi factory to date. GE Distributed Power, the business we partnered with to set up the project, serves as a channel for transport of the LM engines to the overhaul centre in Brindisi. Our colleagues at Distributed Power are therefore continuing to support us in the transition process, providing the know-how, skills and tools needed to operate successfully in this complex and competitive market.
In spite of the increased workload, this major new development has been greeted with energy and enthusiasm in Brindisi as it offers an excellent opportunity for professional growth. Out of a total of 26 factory workers now engaged in maintenance and overhaul operations on LM family engines, 12 (plus 4 office workers) have taken part in specific training sessions at the GE Service Center in Houston, Texas.
Mirko Lagattolla, head of the Marine and Industrial business in Brindisi, has been involved in the transfer project since the very first stages. He commented:“All of this has been made possible by three things: people, processes and machinery. The people we selected for the project are growing professionally, improving their skills in familiar activities such as those on the LM2500 and also those on the new LM6000 engine. As for processes, we have organized operations in strict accordance with a Gate process and have begun large-scale transfer of machinery from Rheden to Brindisi.
The Gate process is an interesting working method. As Material manager Fabrizio Scrimieri explained, it is widely used within GE’s industrial operations as it "clarifies the inputs and outputs of each phase, defines roles and responsibilities, simplifies planning and control of activities and ensures more effective communication with customers”.
There are a total of 5 gates covering the sequence of activities and processes that take place from the moment the engine enters the facility through to delivery to the customer.
GATE 0 - PLANNING & ENGINE ARRIVAL:
the work is planned and scheduled as commissioned by the customer; the engine arrives at the Brindisi facility inside an enormous container, which is also checked.
GATE 1 - DISASSEMBLY & INSPECTION:
in a hall adjacent to the building where the LM engine overhaul work is performed, the container is disassembled and opened using a series of lift trucks and cranes; the engine is lifted out from inside and taken to the overhaul area for the initial visual inspection, cleaning, non-destructive testing (e.g. liquid penetrants, ultrasound, thermal imaging and magnetic checks); finally the engine undergoes a technical inspection.
GATE 2 - PROCUREMENT, REPAIR & KITTING:
the materials required for the activities are procured (from bolts to spare parts and small components), the suppliers are monitored and the necessary repairs made. In the kitting stage the serviced parts are prepared for reassembly.
GATE 3 - ASSEMBLY
each part or component disassembled during overhaul or maintenance is reassembled, the engine is balanced and all relevant parts ground ready for the strict final testing stage.
GATE 4 - TEST & CUSTOMER RELEASE:
in this last step the engine is delivered to the customer ready for use. The engine is started, tested and then returned to its container to be shipped and returned to service at sea or for energy generation.
Attention to the customer is one of the keys to success of our entire company and is especially important in engine MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) operations. Demonstrating adaptability and flexibility is a sign of professionalism and competence and is also the reason why customers will continue to choose us. The Marine and Industrial Business team know this very well and devote time and resources to relations with customers and to meeting their needs in terms of deliveries, costs and quality.
The procedures adopted for this family of engines, especially the Gate process, are proving very useful in Brindisi, which has also long been a centre of excellence for military engine overhauls. The experience acquired by operators and technicians in this area of operations will also be very valuable.