BHGE developing technology-driven solutions to reduce total cost of ownership
Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), has been making strides in equipment and service offerings by implementing new service models, equipment packages and digital technologies. Alberto Matucci, Vice President of TPS Equipment and Projects for BHGE, recently discussed trends in the energy, turbomachinery, digital technology and service markets with Gas Processing & LNG. A transcription of Mr. Matucci’s views follows.
While BHGE recently won new orders for LNG projects, the company remains committed to differentiating the business, implementing solutions proven in LNG into other applications of the oil and gas value chain. In downstream, BHGE is developing technologies to help customers remain competitive, increase the efficiency of equipment and reduce the total cost of ownership.
To provide a real case, when we talk about compression technology at BHGE, we are now introducing new solutions for ethylene crackers and for gas compressors that allow the user to basically do the same compression service with one less compressor and half the footprint, without any negative impact on the availability of the solution. This is accomplished with a faster compressor, where each impeller is designed to withstand higher speeds. In some cases, we are also able to run beyond the second critical speed of the machine in a safe manner, without any problems.
We can achieve this because BHGE has developed technologies on the machinery side that are reliable. We have developed computational fluid dynamics with sophisticated technology that can predict what the machine will do. We are very eager to get more involved with the downstream industry and to promote these new technologies that add value for our customers.
Plant integration and production increases. With regard to plant integration, especially with refineries and petrochemicals, most of the main process solutions providers are already designing more integrated processes where the feedstock is taken from the refinery process to feed petrochemical operations, thereby making the whole operation more efficient. The size of these plants will continue to grow.
Technology stewardship. We are working to introduce new technologies at BHGE. At the end of the day, we want to reduce costs for our customers. Obviously, things like having one compressor less is, by definition, more economical than having two to accomplish the exact same job.
We are also working with customers to overcome some of the conservatism that the industry has faced, especially on the downstream side. If adopted, our ideas can lead to a more contemporary approach and to more cost-effective solutions. Cost pressures will continue, but this also gives us the opportunity to work in a different manner with end users and with engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firms to think cleverly about how to deal with the costs of equipment installations and plant constructions and upgrades.
BHGE is also applying digital technologies developed in other segments to the downstream sector—virtual reality training for engineers, for example. We also use augmented reality in our “smart helmets” for site work by service engineers. This hard hat has a special set of goggles with computer screens that allow the engineers to see real-time data from analytics specialists at headquarters or another location. This data directs the engineer as to what they are seeing when they look at a piece of equipment.
This technology allows us to multiply the value we offer to clients with our service engineers. We will never have all the expertise in one brain, of course, but in this way we can transfer knowledge to the operator from the ears and eyes and brains of the experts.
Other technologies allow for collaboration on projects in different ways. It could be people collaborating on the same drawing or specifications for a design at the same time, instead of trading the plans from one office to the other. This is a collaborative environment where we work together with the customer, thereby saving time and money.
Asset Performance Management. Looking at the interactions between machinery and digital technologies, we have an extensive fleet of machines under our Asset Performance Management solution, which we have already applied in the LNG sector.
Through Asset Performance Management, we take terabytes of data and feed them back to our monitoring centers, and then feed the analyses based on that data back to the customers to help them determine what they can do with their machines. They will be able to predict what will happen with the machine in one week or two weeks or ten months, based on indications of what the equipment is doing now.
In the Asset Performance Management process, the technology takes inputs from the equipment to inform the operator how to optimize the process parameters to maximize production, to reduce the impact of an issue in some part of the plant, or to determine if maintenance is necessary based on machine condition.
These technologies are enabling new service models, cost reductions, value additions and efficiency improvements for producers. Instead of supplying a stockpile of parts, we can optimize the delivery of those parts, because the system can predict what will happen with plant equipment and what solutions will be needed for maintenance, repair or replacement.
We are also using additive manufacturing technology in the production of our machines. This will help us improve our new service models into the future. With additive manufacturing technology, sensors on the equipment relay data that tell unit operators when they need to order a part—wherever it is needed and whenever it is needed, without the customer having to worry about old-fashioned maintenance plans. These models will be a significant component of future operational and maintenance strategies for BHGE’s customers.
While all operators are facing strong pressures on costs, innovative digital and technical solutions are offering new opportunities to reduce total cost of ownership. At BHGE, we are fully committed to help our customers in embracing this transformation and taking advantage of these new opportunities.
Now, more than ever, we believe that our innovation and technology can make the difference for their applications, and we are ready to work with them to define together a new chapter for the industry. GP
Alberto Matucci is Vice President of TPS Equipment and Projects for Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), based in Florence, Italy. He reports directly to Rod Christie, President and CEO of Turbomachinery and Process Solutions (TPS) for BHGE. Mr. Matucci relocated in 2018 from Newcastle, UK, where he led the GE Wellstream Flexible business. He is a BHGE Nuovo Pignone veteran, with 20 yr of experience in the oil and gas industry. He holds an MS degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the University of Florence and is focused on product development, execution and customer service.
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