Exploring the impact of modular turbine replacement on the effectiveness of power generation plants
It has become imperative for Eskom as the only organisation involved in generating and supplying electricity in South Africa to adopt different strategies to deal with load shedding since post 2008. Some of the business strategies include ensuring that power generating plants are maintained effectively without compromising electricity production. A compromise had to be achieved between maintaining plant, thus ensuring reliability while also ensuring adequate electricity reserves for the economy to grow. Finding balance was difficult in an emerging economy like South Africa where political drivers were more to address the socio-economic factors of the population versus making business decisions for the utility. This has forced the entity to create a balance between improved availability and reliability of units while ensuring maintenance adequacy to the plant. As a result, an option to implement turbine modular replacement seemed feasible as by its nature it should take shorter time to replace a complete module rather than refurbishment during outages, which normally takes longer. Hence the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of modular turbine replacement on plant effectiveness in power generation plants at Eskom. A quantitative survey of 171 senior managers, contractors, engineers, supervisors, outage project coordinators and implementers were conducted using a structured self-administered questionnaire. A probability stratified sampling method was used to sample the respondents from two provinces. Exploratory factor analysis was performed to identify the factors contributing to the implementation of turbine modular replacement in the electricity generating plants. Eight factor-solution was extracted using factorability analysis and senior management interference, lack of skills, management support, implementers skills and competence, replacement engineering skilled staff, skilled project staff, ageing power plant, increase in scope of work and lack of skills by maintenance staff were identified to be the contributors in the implementation of TMR. The findings support a positive impact of TMR implementation on high quality of work, costs reduction benefit during outages and cost benefit to Eskom bottom line. Consequently, Eskom is encouraged to continue their efforts in adopting and implementing TMR strategies. In addition, by increasing high quality of work, Eskom can improve their plant effectiveness and performance. The findings may be used as a guideline for power generation companies in general and Eskom that intend to implement turbine modular replacement.