Emerson Takes PlantWeb Architecture to Rural Electric Cooperative | Automation.com

Emerson Takes PlantWeb Architecture to Rural Electric Cooperative

Fleet-wide planning lowers costs and enhances efficiency for Western Farmers Electric Cooperative

ANADARKO, OKLA. – When smaller power providers like Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC) decide the time has come to upgrade plant control and instrumentation systems, operational efficiency and advanced system design are often sacrificed to meet restricted budgets. However, Oklahoma-based WFEC, which supplies power to 19 distribution cooperatives and Altus Air Force Base, is finding that fleet-wide planning and an up-front investment in current technology are cost-effective ways to get better overall results.

In late 2001, WFEC began working with the Power & Water Solutions division of Emerson Process Management – a leader in instrumentation and control technology – to upgrade the control systems of all of its Oklahoma generating units – six at Anadarko, three at Mooreland and one at Hugo (Ft. Towson) – over a seven-year period.

"We were faced with aging controls – the average being 23 years,” said Torry R. Wise, production services controls coordinator for WFEC. “We’ve always taken care of the heavy metal – turbine work and boiler work – but paid less attention to the control systems, as long as they appeared to be working. Reliability of controls can bite you just as easily as problems with the boilers, tube leaks, or vibration problems in the turbines."

Fleet-Wide Approach Leads to Long-Term Relationship

WFEC decided to follow a long-term, fleet-wide approach to replacing its control systems, rather than a traditional bid process that split generating units into individual contracts. The cooperative looked at the benefits of control system standardization and found by grouping its plants together it could offer a vendor a substantial project to bid on.

“We felt there was strength in numbers," Wise said. "Instead of asking for a single system, we would put all of our systems together and develop a long-range schedule to upgrade our entire fleet. This would make us a bigger player, and help us get better results from vendors by offering them a larger opportunity."

WFEC also found that standardization offered installation cost reductions.

"If we put the same control systems in at all the plants – that saves a lot of money in itself,” Wise said. “It saves in parts, installation and training. As each system is installed, technicians learn from the previous project and the process just gets better and better. We build a depth of knowledge within our plants and across our organization.”

WFEC started its screening process with five vendors. Looking for a supplier with experienced people who could and would offer ways to do things better and reduce costs, WFEC chose Emerson.

"Operators at the sites were happy with the Emerson system but the real difference we found was in the people we were dealing with,” Wise said. “Emerson has really good people. They’ve added a lot to the plan, and their suggestions have helped control costs.”

Advanced PlantWeb Architecture a Perfect Match

Emerson focused its work for WFEC on integrated plant-wide controls at all of the cooperative’s sites. Each plant system takes advantage of the total instrumentation and control solutions Emerson Process Management provides.

Emerson will install the Ovation® Control & Information System, which uses an open architecture approach that helps to eliminate concerns about technological obsolescence and dependence on proprietary systems, at each plant. Operating on a high-speed, high-capacity network, Ovation was the first system built completely to open industry standards. It uses commercially available hardware and allows easy integration of a customer’s existing IT products and components, while maintaining process security. Ovation is a key component of Emerson’s groundbreaking PlantWebÒ digital plant architecture for the power generation industry.

Following the PlantWeb architecture, the WFEC control systems will use HART intelligent transmitters. Ovation communicates with HART devices, and analyzes the information each transmitter provides through AMS, Emerson’s strategic asset management software designed to use information from smart devices to lower maintenance costs. Additionally, other instrumentation and valves will come from Emerson’s Rosemount and Fisher divisions.

Even More Advantages to Partnership

Another advantage of working with Emerson Process Management has been its flexibility in working with WFEC to schedule controls upgrades. For example, Anadarko Unit 4 was scheduled be upgraded in the fall of 2003, but due to lower electricity demand in the summer of 2002, the unit‘s run time was reduced. Because the unit was less critical to meeting energy demands, WFEC worked with Emerson to postpone the modernization until the spring of 2004.

An “alliance” approach to the relationship between WFEC and Emerson makes the arrangement work, according to Joyce Dasch, Power Marketing Manager for the Power & Water Solutions division of Emerson Process Management. Emerson offers customers a combination of the right systems and products with expert, power-industry-specific consulting.

“We work together early on and collaboratively follow through the whole way to final validation and post-installation performance benchmarking,” she said. “There is more Emerson involvement in the early planning process and project definition than in traditional projects, which is beneficial to both parties as we move forward.”

As each plant system is installed, Emerson cross-checks performance, comparing each project with similar modernizations and matching actual performance after the upgrade with agreed-upon targets, to assure the systems are working the way WFEC needs them to.

“We stand by our performance improvement commitments – upon project completion we reconcile actual versus projected unit performance improvements and, on that basis, move on to the next project,” Dasch said. “If projected targets cannot be achieved, financial credits are provided to Western Farmers.”

Early Success

Emerson has completed the control system for Anadarko Unit 3, and the modernization of Mooreland Unit 3 is currently underway. To date, the Anadarko 3 upgrade helped WFEC gain an average heat rate improvement of 2.7 percent, saving 800mmBTU/kwhr, and has decreased start-up times, increased ramp rates and improved overall unit stability and control.

“The operators are running Anadarko 3 with the new Ovation system and they tell me we need to upgrade the other units as fast as we can,” Wise said. “Even on the gas turbines we have, which are generally newer control systems, the operators look at Ovation versus what they are using, and they say ‘you need to get Ovation on these units’.”

About Western Farmers Electric Cooperative

Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC) is a consumer-owned, regional cooperative responsible for supplying wholesale electric power to 19 member distribution electric cooperatives and Altus Air Force Base. The member systems serve the electric power requirements of nearly half a million people. Headquartered in Anadarko, Okla., WFEC owns and operates both generating and transmission resources. The cooperative owns one coal-fired, six gas-fired and three combined-cycle generating units. The fossil fuel generating units and the Cooperative's hydro allocation have a power supply capacity of more than 1,300 megawatts. The transmission facilities include more than 3,400 miles of transmission lines and more than 225 substations.

About Emerson Process Management

Emerson Process Management (www.emersonprocess.com), an Emerson business, is a leader in helping businesses automate their production, processing and distribution in the power, water and wastewater treatment, chemical, oil and gas, refining, pulp and paper, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and other industries.

Emerson's Power & Water Solutions division (www.emersonprocess-powerwater.com), formerly Westinghouse Process Control, is a global supplier of advanced distributed process control and information systems. The Pittsburgh-based company is a recognized leader in developing plant-wide process control solutions for the power generation, water treatment and wastewater treatment industries. Power & Water Solutions plays a key role in the Emerson mission of combining superior products and technology with industry-specific engineering, consulting, project management and maintenance services. Emerson brands include: PlantWebÒ; OvationÒ; SmartProcessÔ; FisherÒ; MicroMotionÒ; RosemountÒ; DeltaVÔ; and AMS.

About Emerson
St. Louis-based Emerson (www.gotoemerson.com) is a global leader in bringing technology and engineering together to provide innovative solutions to customers in process control; electronics and telecommunications; industrial automation; heating, ventilating and air conditioning; and appliance and tools. Sales in fiscal 2002 were $13.8 billion.
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