Industrial engine in a natural gas fired electrical power plant

Wherever in the world energy is in high demand, sustaining a continual stream of power is imperative.

The ebb and flow of electricity isn’t only influenced by population concentration and growth. Variant temperatures – from extreme highs to unimaginable lows – place a heavy burden on the power grid and must be overcome to ensure a consistent stream isn’t disrupted.

These extreme weather conditions also highlight why onsite personnel must keep on top of seasonal changes too.

Travelling to some of the world’s most remote and hazardous locations, power engineers endure and adapt to settings very few humans will experience in their lifetime.

Whether it is temperatures upward of 48oC in the Middle East or sub-zero conditions in the Siberian wilderness, engine lubrication is essential to avoid production stall or downtime and the engineer must often demonstrate extraordinary levels of endurance to ensure power output goes uninterrupted when exposed to these unforgiving climates.

Coping with these factors when completing a task to the highest quality and in good time requires effective maintenance strategies and can benefit from the aid of an expert consultant who knows the location well and can guide you every step of the way.

For example, maintaining a continuous operation will benefit from a reduction in operational downtime and means there also needs to be an emphasis on maximising the life expectancy of plant equipment to optimise power output.

Research shows that three-quarters of the industry insists prolonging plant life is a high priority within their business1. By extending equipment lifespan, operators can manage operations more cost-effectively, helping to protect the bottom line. For instance, extreme temperatures require the use of lubricants with excellent thermal stability to maintain power engines situated in some of the earth’s most hostile environments and is an area where Shell Lubricants can advise.

"Three-quarters of the Power industry insists prolonging plant life is a high priority within their business."

Engines run differently in adverse weather conditions compared to those experienced during the design phase, and with the additional pressures extreme hot and cold temperatures place on consumer electricity demand, engineers are often required to adapt more frequently to engine capacity in volatile climates.

To sustain effective equipment maintenance, Shell Lubricants’ expert consultants are on hand to liaise with power engineers, whose day-to-day challenges can change drastically, and provide operational advice when working at key sites; whether inside a busy engine room one week, or in complete solitude the next. 

As power providers attempt to reach more isolated regions of the planet, this is also making harder-to-reach destinations tougher to navigate – where additional travel duration increases the engineer’s time spent away from home.

The appetite for power is greater than ever, especially when businesses are transitioning to leaner and smarter factories where raising productivity and lowering production costs are key priorities to remaining competitive. However, even with the best operators in control, harsh conditions at the power source can cause the lights to occasionally go out and leave the consumer wondering what went wrong.

Therefore, in a connected world constantly switched on, the energy customer can take for granted their access to power and raises the market’s expectations. To sustain these expectations, it takes a special group of people behind the scenes to deliver on the increasing pressure on the power grid and are often called upon at unsociable hours – day or night, weekend or weekday – to address a faulty engine.

To do this, they must adapt to different work environments quickly and are expected to bring themselves up to speed on the eccentricities of each location, adding a sense of professionalism and pride to their roles, and, in some places, a patience for whatever the environment will throw at them.

1Based on a survey, commissioned by Shell Lubricants and conducted by research firm Edelman Intelligence, of 350 power sector staff who purchase, influence the purchase or use lubricants / greases as part of their job across 7 countries (USA, China, India, Germany, Russia, Indonesia and the UK) from March to April 2018.

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