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RELIABILITY AND AVAILABILITY A CHALLENGE OF

INCREASING IMPORTANCE FOR ENERGY INDUSTRY


Timot Veer1 , Olav Bolland
Dept. of Energy and Process Engineering
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
NO-7491, Trondheim, Norway

ABSTRACT
The paper discusses several of the main aspects
that reliability and availability concern has upon
design, operation and maintenance of gas turbine
based power plants.
The authors review the approach of several
international standards and market-leading
companies towards reliability and availability
terminology. Comments specific to gas turbines as
well as suggestions regarding regularity metrics are
given. Nevertheless, the most important
considerations related to reliability and availability
based operation, maintenance and service are
outlined.
Chiefly, power generation and supply for
mechanical drive and electricity production is
considered herein. Specific examples are taken
from gas turbine operating within oil and gas
production and processing industry.
NOMENCLATURE
Abbreviations:
AF,
availability factor
AH,
available hours
AOH; administrative outage hours
AS,
attempted starts
BS,
British Standard (British Standardisation
Institute)

IEEE,
MOH,
MTBF,
MTTR,
NERC,
ORAP,
P,
PH,
POH,
R&A,
r,
R,
RR,
RSH,
SH,
SR,
SS,

Institute of Electrical and Electronics


Engineers
maintenance outage hours
mean time between failures
mean time to repair
North American Reliability Council
Operational
Reliability
Analysis
Program
power output of the regarded system
period hours
planned outages, planned maintenance
reliability and availability
multiplicative factor considering change
in performance; derating or degradation
reliability
running reliability
reserve service hours, out of duty though
able to run
service hours, that is, in operation
starting reliability
successful starts

Greek letters:
,
time
Indexes:
0,
base line
m,
measured

EPDH: equivalent planned derated hours


ESEDH: equivalent seasonal derated hours
EUDH: equivalent unplanned derated hours

INTRODUCTION

FOF,
FOH,
FS,

The worldwide dominant tendency toward


liberalization of the energy market has brought as
direct consequences changes in price structure,

forced outage factor


forced outage hours
failed starts

Corresponding author (veer@maskin.ntnu.no); the postal address is valid for both co-authors

operation, design considerations as well as


contract terms of power plants. Steadily
downward pressed price scheme beside a higher
expectancy regarding safe fulfilling of the
customers needs are framing the energy business
activity of industry.
The increasing value of the short term, variable
loads (peak power) or long-term maintenance
contracts
became
specific
tendencies.
Additionally, the previously general tendency
toward chasing the percents of efficiency by any
means seems to decline. The utmost new design
solutions are not necessarily preferred though a
possible performance gain would be possible. In
turn, the both contractor sides must focus more
and more on reliability, availability and
maintainability.

THE GOAL OF THIS PAPER


The current paper aims to outline the key
parameters describing the reliability and
availability performance of the regarded systems.
The authors present then the approach of several
international standards and market-leading
companies to these parameters. A critical analyses
and discussion of the mentioned criteria follows in
order to bring improvements to these definitions
or partly eliminate the problems that use to occur
due to ambiguous nomenclature.
Suggestions are made as it regards measurement
the interpretation of the results as well as the
R&A focused operation. Drawbacks of the
considering barely binary operating states
(operatingdown) are outlined.
It is stressed the importance of having considered
derating and more into detail the progressive
degradation process when discussing the R&A
performance of a system.

BRIEF HISTORIC BACKGROUND


Regularity as science is relatively new area within
engineering although concern for reliability
appeared during World War II, already.
Reliability is for the first time mentioned in
connection with air transportation, i.e. on-board
equipment as well as the number of failure per
landings; safety and increasing of the safety by
design, personnel training and other means was
the aim. A failure rate of 1/106 is assumed [1] and
it was assumed as the measure of reliability.

Financial issues could not be regarded due to the


fact, that a failure implied human victims, so
similarly to the nuclear plants case a cost of the
consequences
are
chiefly
subjectively
determinable [24].
Further on, the engineers of the V1 missiles focus
on the determination of the failure rate within the
component chain that would lead to failure in
operation. These missiles were uncontrolled, so
their efficiency in achieving the target was
described as mainly depending on manufacturing
and assembling precision.
In the post-war period the army continued to be
the main employer of the regularity concern.
During the war in Korea, the British Army set up
assessments designed to evaluate under which
condition the maintenance of the electronic
equipment is favourable to the change.
Out of defence technology engineering, reliability
appears as a set of characteristics of a system first
in the mid 80-ies. In 1986, BS published
Reliability of constructed or manufactured
products, systems, equipments and components
(BS5760), [6].
One year later appears (IEEE 762/87) Standard
Definitions for Use in Reporting Electric
Generating Unit Reliability, Availability and
Productivity [14].
Concern for regularity becomes an important
factor inside electrical and power engineering;
IEEE lances the Operational Reliability Analysis
Program (1993) [23].
Follow ups are the initialization of the
Generating Availability Data System (by NERC)
and finally, ISO 3977-9 (1999 December), Gas
Turbine Procurement Reliability, Availability,
Maintainability and Safety [16], a standard design
for the mechanical engineers specifically dealing
with gas turbines regularity.
Other standards are: BS4778-3.2 Availability,
Reliability and Maintainability Terms (1990) [5];
ISO-BS 14224 Petroleum and Natural Gas
Industries Collection and Exchange of
Reliability and Maintenance Data for Equipment
(1999 July), [15].
Beside the herein mentioned worldwide standards
a great amount of different in-house standards and
terminologies coexist. These constitute a heritage
through the years, e.g. in the case of BrownBoveri Co. (BBC, later ABB, now Alstom), KWU
(now Siemens-Westinghouse), General Electric
(GE), Rolls-Royce and other market leading
manufacturers [3, 9, 12, 13].

As the reader might certainly realize, the


communication and especially the comparison of
the results is becoming difficult and distorted due
to the ambiguity of the terms and definitions.
Another important area of application is the
nuclear power plants. These are organic part of
the energy sector just as the fossil fired units
nevertheless, encounter considerably different
problems when it comes to reliability and
availability issues.
The main difference is brought by the fact that the
consequences of the failures are of a different
scale, e.g. in case of radioactive material exit due
to a failure in a nuclear reactor. In this case,
besides the certainly high financial loss caused
bye the stop out of such a high capacity the
impact on the personnel, ambiance and the
surroundings is catastrophic and long lasting [11,
24].
Regularity and lifing assessments in nuclear
power plants are set somehow differently2 and
safety is accorded the primal importance. In
nuclear power plants case the time span is
estimated till a given failure shall probably occur
instead of assessing the number of failures
occurring in a certain time span [7]. This approach
is particular to areas within engineering where
failure endangers human lives or the environment.
Air transport is another typical example. In these
cases safety and not failure probability is
assessed. As illustrated in the paragraph on
terminology and standards, employment of MTBF
criteria is more appropriate in these cases [10].

CURRENTLY
USED
TERMINOLOGY

REGULARITY

The literature mainly operates with the following


metering terms and criteria:
a. Reliability Factor:
b. Starting reliability
c. Running Reliability
d. Availability Factor
e. Equivalent Availability Factor
Additional comments can be found in Appendix.
Reliability factor (R)
Def: reliability of a system is the probability of
being in operation during the oncoming time unit.
2

than the previously mentioned GT or other fossil fuelled


technologies

The classical textbook formula (1) expresses


reliability of a system as [1, 19 and 25]:
R=

MTBF
;
MTBF + MTTR

(1)

Starting Reliability (SR)


This is a parameter of dominant importance in the
case of emergency reserve machines, peak regime
gas turbines or auxiliary power sources designed
for cyclic run.
Def.: SR is the ratio of the number of successful
starts (SS) and the sum of the successful (SS) and
failed starts (FS).
IEEE-762/87 formulation [14]
SR =

SS
;
SS + FS

(2)

This formulation incorporates the advantages of


correlating only the successful starts with relevant
starting attempts.
Running Reliability (RR)
This qualitative parameter is a time-based
measure of relevance for regularity measurements
of high usage factor machines.
Def.: RR defines the probability that the
equipment will fulfil its duty for the planned
period with respect to the period of time being in
operation.
The authors suggest the following formulation:
RR =

SH + RSH
;
SH + RSH + MOH + FOH

(3)

Availability Factor (AF)


This is another time based quality parameter for
characterize the regularity performance of a
system. Availability factor is a parameter of
special interest for the case of continuous load
systems.
Def.: AF is the measure if time a unit is capable
of providing service; percent available for the
period under consideration.
The following expression is proposed:
AF =

SH + RSH + AOH
;
PH

(4)

Whereas:
PH=SH+RSH+AOH+POH+MOH+FOH=8760h/a

Equivalent Availability Factor (EAF)


This parameter is a combined time and output
dependant measure of the performance of a
system.
Def.: EAF the amount of energy the machinery is
able to provide related to the maximum
deliverable amount.
Mathematical expression [16]
EAF=

PH (EUDH + EPDH + ESEDH)


; (5)
PH

Whereas, the notions derating and equivalent


derating are introduced.
Derating is considered as being the amount of
output the system is short of due to various
reasons, as climate, operating mode, fouling,
degradation, etc. relative to the base line capacity
(NMC).
Equivalent derated hour3 is defined as follows:
EDH=

DT
;
NMC

R () = e ;

(7)
Where, the hazard rate (risk of having an
operational failure) is in fact not constant but
qualitatively described by a bath-tub curve, as
shown on fig 1. This would result in another
source of uncertainty the designer ought to be
fully aware of.

(6)

Whereas:
EDH: equivalent derated hours [h]
D:
the considered power derating [MW]
T:
the duration of the considered derating [h]
NMC:
net maximum capacity [MW], base
line

OPERATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
Some of the very important factors relating
regularity one ought to consider during design and
operation:
- Age
- Operation and maintenance strategy
- Ambient conditions
The authors intend to outline few of the most
important effect of regularity concern and the
design and operation, respectively. As it regards
the effect of the ambient condition see the
following section Measurement, assessments
where the concern for change in ambient
condition is handled in detail.
The effect of the age of a system
As already stated in the previous subsection, the
momentary performance of a system is in the least
extent a given or an easily definable. The effect of
the age is alike in a certain extent, too. We
3

consider the probability of a system to be in


operation (e.g. not being unexpectedly broken
down) for constant hazard rate case as given by
formula (7). [1]

Within EDH we differentiate: forced (EFDH), planned


(EPDH), scheduled (ESDH), and seasonal (ESEDH) as well
unplanned equivalent derated hours (EUDH).

Fig 1, operational failure versus ageing of a system,


bath-tub curve

When disposing of a heterogeneous machine park


from age point of view, the operator ought to
consider the effect of ageing in choosing the role
of different items in sharing the load following. A
machine being in a period with higher operational
risks would imminently not be used for peak-load
or load following operation, neither used as only
operating machine but most likely in sharing the
base load operation. Exception is when a machine
still in its useful life would produce more loss due
to a very poor efficiency then a failure of a
machine in its burn in period.
As it regards the age of a technology the situation
is somewhat similar in the extent that at the
introduction of a new solution imminently one has
to consider a certain uncertainty about the
reliability of that system. As these problems are
progressively solved, this unreliability would
decrease in time.
Operation and maintenance strategy
Base load
The operating mode/strategy of a gas turbine is
considered a very important design factor. It is
obvious, that a base load machine will have as

dominant criteria the thermal efficiency since the


fuel costs will dominate the specific costs of the
product. One should in the same time bear in
mind that the manufacturer improves the
efficiency of the machine by introducing novel
solutions.
At this point, the operator ought to be fully aware
that this means (most commonly) a certain
decrease in reliability. The reliability unlike
availability is illustrating the probability of being
able to fulfil its duties at a certain moment in time.
It does not say anything about the type of the
failure or the length of the downtime, thus at any
moment in time can occur any of these outages,
table 1. In this table the results of processing data
of a representative sample of 15 machines are
shown. These aero derivative gas turbines are of
the same type, though have different makes and
operation and maintenance policies. [20]
Case
Best
Mean
Worst

Failure type
Critical Degraded
Incipient
Unknown
3
8
7
4
221
81
150
9
773
204
432
14

Table 1, Outage Hours / year for different machines

It is therefore obvious that outages can by


chance occur so that the cost of lost product is
high. An in depth economic analysis can highlight
the benefits or disadvantage of choosing a
thermodynamically more advanced machine
incorporating
new,
relatively
unreliable
technologic solutions.
Peak power
For peak load applications4 especially for the
machines that start very often the initial costs are
the most dominant selection factor. Besides, one
should thoroughly consider the starting reliability
features of the selected option.
Usually, for this type of applications, the
availability is not relevant insofar as these units
dispose of the sufficient planned down time
(reserved service hours as well as planned outage
hours) a good part of the current maintenance
operations to be able to be performed. Some of
these:
- washing
- bore scope analysis
- taking oil samples,
- filter cleaning,
4

the mechanical drive applications and in certain extent the


load following generator driving units also fit herein

- minor adjustments
Totally different matter is the starting failure. The
material loss due to failure is particular to the
technology and from case to case it can
considerably affect the thrift of the unit.
Maintenance and service strategy
Pool approach is a general tendency among the
operators that own a larger number of gas
turbines. The main idea behind this maintenance
strategy is to reduce down time period of the
machines that underwent a technical failure
resulting in an outage larger than 100h. A typical
case is the failures that occur after the 2nd -3rd hot
section check interval5 and it is likely that a hot
section repair is opportune [8, 18]. In these cases
the major failure is not corrected on the site, but a
machine from the pool is brought to the site and
the machine is changed. The failed machine is
then brought to a more thorough service and set
ready for a next change at any other site, as well.
Another untypical although widespread
example for maintenance strategy meant to
minimize down time is when neither on-line
washing, nor crank washing, inlet filter cleaning
nor other most current corrective maintenance
tasks are fulfilled. The reason for this is that there
are several technologies where the sum of even
such minor outages has far higher costs than the
relative increase of the operating costs of the
machine due to its faster degradation6. This kind
of maintenance strategy is mainly encountered in
power plants deserving chemical industry.
Nevertheless, on most sites an optimization7 is
carried out in order to set up the moment of
performing minor maintenance or corrective
maintenance tasks. One can find quantitative as
well as temporal criteria that trigger these tasks.
The interrelation between maintenance and
regularity performance is a well-documented
subject in the scientific literature therefore wed
rather indicate some of the published works in this
field [2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 13, 18, and 26].

hot section checking interval is usually 24000EOH


(equivalent operating hours)
6
Reserve is provided for the plant as a whole and not for a
technologic line.
7
most commonly cost optimization

MEASUREMENTS, ASSESSMENTS
Measurement is the primal source of information
and data as it regards any kind of regularity
consideration.
Ideally, the methodology works as follows: the
operator logs the time intervals the system is
being down; at the end of the monitored period
the outage hours are summed then the afferent
R&A parameters are estimated.
In the reality, there is a multitude of outages as
well as failure causes that are not always
univocally classifiable. In order to possibly avoid
this sort of ambiguous state of facts a detailed
failure mode analysis is suggested. Further on, it
helps to define in depth the classification of the
terms occurring. Special care is demanded at the
handling with the terms of Administrative Outage,
Maintenance Outage, and Forced Outage. The
reason is that the classification of these terms is in
a great extent dependable upon the logistics,
maintenance philosophy of the site, the operation
strategy as well as the infrastructure of the firm.
Another difficult task is to estimate the expectable
output and the momentary output of machine (see
Fig 2). There, results of output measurements
were plotted versus time over a fairly long
monitored period. It is no washing or other
internal hardware modification brought to the
machine.

Fig 2, relative value of measured power versus time8

Depending on the scope of the measurement, the


definition of the base line or expectable output
can incorporate part of the effect of the framing
factors. This is suggested in order to make the
results comparable over time and not less
important comparable among machines of
different ages and operating in different locations.
Though, it is very difficult to formulate any
assertion as it regards the single effects
8

1.00 corresponds to 100% load, i.e. base line value

influencing the power output. N.B., these all act


simultaneously.

Fig 3, measured value of power versus desired load


factor at the corresponding moments

Fig 3 represents the main two operating


parameters; relative value of power and the
desired load [%] (100% means full load). The
graph is intended to give a quantitative insight
into what order of magnitude the derating factors
currently have. It is obvious, that the effect of the
other framing conditions is of the same order of
magnitude as the variation of the load demand
itself (within this monitored interval), see the
scatter (>5%) of the points on the Fig 3.
Thus, special assessments are needed in order to
determine the already mentioned baseline or the
derating. It is usually not univocal what is
unrecoverable degradation and what is
momentary, recoverable derating due to ambient
conditions or operating features. A typical
example is illustrated on the Fig 2 and Fig 3.
The authors suggest employment of a correction
methodology to facilitate processing measurement
data. A multitude of factors that affect the
operation of the machine are considered in order
to level the highly scattered and uneven
measurement results to a reference value. The
reasoning is based on the following assumptions:
- the machine is the same entity during the
regarded period,
- the response of the hardware is not stochastic
to the external effects,
- these effects can be superposed by
multiplication.
This yields the following formulation:
(8)
P()= P0 z ri () ;
i

Whereas:
P(): momentary power, [MW]

P0: reference power9, [MW]


ri(): momentary value of the multiplication
factor, [-]. It is particularly expressed for each of
the considered effects.
As a first step the main effects are identified:
ambient temperature, fouling, degradation, inlet
pressure variation and load variation. An iterative
process follows: the mathematical formulation of
the ri() functions is preliminary determined then
the corrected value of the power is calculated for
each measurement point. Details about these
correction curves fall out of the main interest of
the paper.
Then the more precise form of the rm() function
is sought as follows:
Pm()=

P ( )
rm _ 1 () ;
ri ()

(9)

Whereas:
Pm(): momentary power depending only on effect
m, [MW]
rm_1(): preliminary form of the multiplication
factor for effect m, [-]
At this step we obtained the value of power
measurements corrected by all effects other than
m, so this could be used to determine the more
precise rm(). Finally, the correction is made
conform (9) but so, as where P() is given and
P0() is sought.

Fig 4, levelled results of the power measurement, 1.00


corresponds to 100% output

On Fig 4, the levelled values of the measurement


results presented previously in Fig 1 are shown.
Note, that the scale is kept constant.
Insofar the levelling is successful the tuning of the
correction factors is achievable. Nevertheless, the

it is considered as a matter of agreement: could be the base


line, the last crank wash, 1st of January, the last major
overhaul, last maintenance shut-down, etc.

cause-effect of the considered factors becomes


more or less known, as well.
Another problem is very often encountered by
regularity assessments based on the measurement
results, namely the uncertainties of the
measurement. The authors only outline two very
important factors:
- operating logs are very often deficient
- measured data are irrelevant.
The first is part of the so-called human factors
affecting the operation of the system. Training of
the personnel as well as univocal definitions
regarding the failures, operation as well as
logging procedure is meant to help to overcome
the problem.
The later is a hardware problem that can be cured
by more into detail checking of the sensors, not
only their operation but also the ambience. It very
often occur change in the orientation of the
sensor,
shading,
obstruction,
periodical
malfunction, etc Last but not least the personnel
processing the measurement data should always
dispose of the proper meaning of the data
collected.
CONCLUSIONS
The paper gave an overview of the
interrelationship exists between reliability and
availability (R&A) and the design, operation and
maintenance, respectively. The key topics of the
work are:
- The authors present the status of the regularity
as a concern of an emerging importance within
power production and distribution;
- The main criteria for describing the regularity
performance of a gas turbine based power
plant are presented;
- Comments as well as suggestions for
improving are given to the criteria mentioned
above. The main concern is a more accurate
characterisation of the machine itself;
- An overview is given on the main effect
regularity concern has upon operation and
maintenance.
- Finally, a discussion of the most important
problems occurring during the regularity
measurement and assessment is done. Typical
results of power measurement and their
processing is presented.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Norsk Hydro ASA, Norway as well as Statoil
ASA, Norway are deeply acknowledged for
supporting current work.

APPENDIX
Reliability Factor
This formula (1) is widely and successfully used
for systems of continuous operation built up of
subsystems of relatively simple failure modes:
e.g. electronic equipment, telephone or other
communication systems. Following the same
reasoning it can accurately be employed in the
specific area of nuclear power generation. The
main drawback of this formula is that MTBF and
MTTR are mainly reliability engineering terms.
These are in fact derived and not directly
measurable, that is, are more far from the
operators day-to-day terminology. Calculating
with the help of MTBF one tends to get results
that are oversensitive to the failure rate [10],
bringing additional problems in comparing results
over different time spans of the same machine
even.

Starting Reliability
IEEE-ORAP formulation
AS - FS
SR =
;
AS

Fig. 5, comparison of the starting reliability measured


with different definitions [10]

The denominator introduces the logical error


referring the starting reliability of a machine to
the total number of start attempts (AS) while it is
well known that a certain percentage of the starts
would fail due to other reasons than the gas
turbine itself.
The NERC formulation [10]
SR =

SS
;
AS

(11)

This formulation penalizes the starts being neither


successful nor failed similarly to previous case by
having in the denominator the total attempted
starts (SA).
Running Reliability
General Electric (GE) formulation, FOF [13]
RR = 1 FOF ;
(12)
FOF=

FOH
PH

is sometimes irrelevant for the

essence of the problem. A gas turbine operating as


low usage machine would have considerably less
forced outage hours (FOH) than a base load
machine due to the maintenance strategy
particular to this operating mode.
UOF formula [10]

(10)

The expression in numerator expresses the


successful starts (SS) as the difference between
the attempted starts (AS) and failed start attempts
(FS)
AS FS = SS
One should, tough, note that not all the starts that
are not failed are successful10. Thus, ORAP
formulation penalizes (3%, see Fig 5) the starts
being neither successful nor failed.

RR = 1 UOF = 1

MOH + FOH
;
PH

(13)

This formulation is ambiguous as it regards other


outage terms not mentioned here.
FOR formula, NERC, IEEE
RR = 1 FOR = 1

FOH
;
FOH + SH

(14)

As previously stated, the numerator should not


subtract only FOH thus is difficult to account the
various types of outages.
European formula [18]
RR = 1 FOR = 1

FOH
; (15)
PH - POH - AOH

Administrative outages are considered. It helps to


more flexibly differentiate those outages the
machine is indeed responsible for.

10

Here failed and successful is regarded only from the


machines point of view.

After a thorough analysis of the different


formulations found for the criteria above the
following suggestions are to be made:

Period hours (PH) should be obtained


additively
Maintenance outages (MOH) are unplanned
outages
MOH and POH should be net distinguished
Availability Factor
NERC and ANSI-IEEE formulation [14]
AF =

AH
;
PH

(16)

Where:
AH: PH FOH MOH POH
PH.: 1 year, 8760 hours/a
At this point, we would like to stress the
significant difference between the reliability and
the availability of a system.
The authors give here a few suggestions to this
parameter and its terminology:
It must consider that a planned outage is an
outage too as it concerns availability
Administrative outages ought NOT to lower
availability thus these should not be charged
against the machine.
It must reflect the hours the machine should be
in operation
Equivalent Availability Factor
The previously presented regularity criteria were
purely accepting the on/off line operating case of
the system. The criteria were considering outage
as result of a failure. This parameter is a
combined time and output dependant measure of
the performance of a system.
Its main characteristic is that deals with derating
as result of failure the fact that a system is on-line,
though unable to deliver the nominal (100%) the
output.
It is very necessary to define herein the base line
capacity. We must call the attention of the reader
that it is a far not as trivial task as it seems. There
are more factors that are source of uncertainty
when it comes to define the so-called expectable
100% output:
- Site-specific climate conditions,
- Age, wearing, progressive degradation,
- Replacement of subassemblies, (e.g. gas
generator),
- Operation mode, controlling and other not
machine dependant limitations.

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Reliability-Availability-Maintainability
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4778,
Availability,
Reliability
and
Maintainability Terms, 1990
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