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International Power

International Power optimizes plant performance with intelligent shift operations management from ABB

Business Impact Summary

International Power's Rugeley Power Station sought to improve productivity and efficiency at its plant operations while maintaining statutory compliance and a high degree of commitment to health and safety. Specifically, Rugeley wanted to increase its plant availability by leveraging available documentation in real time across key operational functions. By using the Shift Operations Management System Suite (eSOMS) from ABB’s Enterprise Software product group, the integrated approach to managing mission-critical data has measurably improved availability and work processes at Rugeley's plant operations. The new standard in the areas of operations management has also provided the plant a consistent methodology for reducing the time and cost of operations activities and effectively managing record keeping and compliance.


The Company

International Power plc is a leading independent electricity generating company with 70,196 MW (gross) (41,550 MW net) in operation and a significant pipeline of 17,249 MW (gross) (6,826 MW net) projects under construction worldwide as of the end of 2010. In February 2011, International Power combined with GDF SUEZ’s Energy International Business Areas (outside Europe) and certain assets in the UK and Turkey to create an enlarged Group with more than 66 GW of power generation (gross) in operation and 22 GW gross capacity under construction.


The Challenge

Located 25 miles north of Birmingham, England, Rugeley Power Station joined International Power's (IP) power generating portfolio in 2001. The coal-fired plant was originally commissioned in 1970 and today produces approximately 1,000 megawatts of electricity, enough power output to meet the needs of approximately 500,000 homes. Ensuring optimal performance at an aging energy converter plant, however, has required a proactive operations approach. Key to minimizing the cost of production and maximizing efficiency was Rugeley's ability to capitalize on the data generated from various disparate but related operations functions.

IP recently reviewed forced outage incidents that had caused lost availability at the Rugeley plant. They discovered that some incidents had been caused by operational error or oversight resulting from a lack of, or proper utilization of, operational data. The resulting improvement initiatives identified new operational requirements to capture additional information—including a broader variety of data—and maximize utilization of this data to effect productivity and efficiency gains in core operational functions. The objectives of these initiatives were straightforward:

  • Improve productivity and efficiency in the workflow requirements of the business
  • Improve compliance with mandatory site inspections and checks
  • Provide an audit trail
  • Reduce operational errors which contribute to forced outage conditions

To meet these objectives, Rugeley evaluated leading industry trends in mobile data capture, storage and reporting technologies. It also sought an architecture that in the future could expand into other areas of the business as well as interface with other IT enterprise systems. Finally, the winning solution needed to provide a tracking and audit tool to ensure that appropriate checks and inspections were performed in line with management policy and requirements.


The Solution

The eSOMS Suite, designed over a period of 20+ years, provided a consistent and integrated approach to those activities which affect equipment configuration, system status and hence, plant operation. eSOMS, a proven solution, is ABB’s enterprise software designed for plant operations management. ABB installed and configured the eSOMS solution with specific modules that provided the tools needed to meet the specified requirements. Acknowledging the critical importance of routine equipment and facilities inspections to detecting and preventing costly maintenance problems, optimizing the plant inspection process was vital to operations improvement.

The Operator Rounds module automated the task of collecting, computing, storing and managing data generated from operator rounds. The module empowered operators and engineers-both at the desktop and in the field-with a powerful and easy-to-use tool for capturing and analyzing data quickly and efficiently. It additionally provided plant personnel with mobile access to key reference documents such as work specifications and process instructions, driving consistency in the application of work processes.

In Rugeley's case, several of the largest and most work intensive rounds were incorporated into the eSOMS Operator Rounds module, including the General Duty (GD) round, Units 6 & 7 Boiler rounds, Units 6 & 7 Turbine rounds, the Flue - gas desulfurization (FGD) round and the Assistant Unit Team Leader (AUTL) round.

An interface was also created between the Operator Rounds module and Rugeley's own electronic journal application, Operations Shift Log (OSL). ABB configured the module so that any data captured in the eSOMS Operator Rounds module would automatically be passed through to Rugeley's OSL application.

Rounding out conformance to Rugeley's operational and compliance requirements, ABB installed and configured the eSOMS data historian interface. This interface pushes critical data (hydrogen, nitrogen and diesel levels, for example) from eSOMS to Rugeley's data historian, OSISoft PI, which is used to monitor and maintain operational data such as that collected by the Operator Rounds module.

Accelerating Adoption

In concert with the IT Group at Rugeley, ABB’s enterprise software Professional Services Organization (PSO) played a key role in the deployment and launch of the solution. To ensure ABB’s solution met Rugeley's defined requirements, PSO personnel spent six weeks on site configuring the existing Rugeley procedures to be performed within eSOMS. To facilitate training of the operators on the use of the mobile devices, PSO personnel escorted each operator during their rounds. This on-site hands-on training helped further refine the configuration of the system. During implementation, bar-coded labels were created and placed throughout the plant to ensure that data was taken at the right location. Finally, PSO conducted "Train the Trainer" sessions to accelerate knowledge transfer and ensure that Rugeley personnel could manage the system from the beginning, including administrating several handhelds devices purchased to capture data throughout the facility.

Broad Scope of Adoption

In addition to International Power personnel, Rugeley also recently deployed eSOMS on six Motorola MC9590 handhelds for use by NOREC, one of their contractors that handle coal and ash for the site. Rugeley also conducts safety inspections for their plant to make sure they are clean, safe and have no fire hazards.


The Result

eSOMS Suite has delivered significant efficiency and performance value to Rugeley's plant operations. Several examples illustrate specific work process optimizations and direct cost savings gained with eSOMS:

  • Firefighting Equipment Inspection Savings. Rugeley created inspection tours for firefighting equipment, including fire boxes and extinguishers. The operator performs some of the tours while the contractor performs others, such as fire protection equipment inspections. The contractor has access to extensive data to determine which firefighting equipment needs to be serviced. By incorporating much of the data gathering into routine operator tours, Rugeley has saved substantial annual costs on contractor work.
  • Reduced Errors and Data Standardization. By placing hundreds of reference documents—including work specifications and operational instructions—at the fingertips of personnel, eSOMS enabled consistency in the application of work processes. For the less experienced operator, this meant a shorter learning curve and ready-to-follow tour steps. Conversely, the mobile work documentation ensured the veteran's knowledge base did not compromise the thoroughness of the tour. The resulting process application and data standardization has reduced human error in plant operations, driving a measured decrease in forced outages.
  • Compliance Accountability. During more extreme weather, the plant experienced freezing of lines that normally remove waste water from the plant. At the time this caused a chemical leak, later prompting an investigational review by the Environment Agency (EA). The inquiry sought to clarify whether or not the equipment failure was a result of negligent maintenance or inadequate inspections. Because eSOMS was able to demonstrate an irrefutable narrative log of routine tours and maintenance tasks on the equipment in question, the EA correctly determined Rugeley had not been negligent in its operations. By proving operational compliance through physical equipment taken during work processes, Rugeley's clear audit trail and other information reassured the authority that prudent operations were established and thus no further action was required.

In summary, International Power's Rugeley Power Station has achieved its improvement objectives and continues to drive operational productivity with:

  • Increased operational efficiency, productivity and safety
  • Increased accountability, consistency and compliance in work processes
  • Reduced errors, time and costs of operations activities
  • Improved and easier data access and record keeping
  • Interfaced data exchange with other enterprise systems such as data historian.

Main Data

Location United Kingdom
Industry Utilities
Solutions Used eSOMS

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