Mechanical Services Shops and Abqaiq Plants use reverse engineering for critical parts
Aramco has successfully revived an obsolete steam turbine by returning it to service in its normal operating condition. This achievement, which was completed by the Mechanical Services Shops Department (MSSD) in partnership with Abqaiq Plants, is the first repair of its kind across the Gulf.
It contributes to the corporate strategic objectives of value creation and operational efficiency.
finding a solution for failing blades
Abqaiq Plants had experienced a significant number of blade failures for steam turbines that had been in service for over 50 years. With an obsolete OEM and with no other entities in the Kingdom that could manufacture the critical rotor parts, Abqaiq Plants approached MSSD to evaluate the feasibility of reverse engineering and a material upgrade for critical turbomachinery components.
“MSSD provided a solution that contributes to cost reduction while avoiding possible production loss,” said Andres E. Gonzalez, supervisor of the Abqaiq Plants Reliability Unit.
“These turbines are critical to Abqaiq Plants because they power transfer pumps responsible for 600,000 barrels per day of crude oil.”
Through its reverse engineering capabilities, MSSD provided an innovative engineering solution for the steam turbine. This included material and geometric design upgrades and redesigning the turbine rotor itself. The scope of work also included:
• heat treatment
• nondestructive testing
• assembly of blading into the wheel
• final turbine assembly
• full speed run tests.
The project involved significant research and design, more than 20 trials and experiments with various materials, geometries, and heat treatment conditions to ensure quality and mechanical integrity of the newly engineered parts.
“Through reverse engineering, we conducted material and geometric design upgrades in-house. We were able redesign the turbine rotor and manufacture blades, spacers, shrouds, and the shaft locally in only seven days,” said Raja S. Khan, senior rotating equipment engineer.
Stringent engineering and quality control measures ensured that the repair met customer expectations. Seven axis scanning machines were used to capture the geometry in-house. The innovative repair doubled the strength of the critical components such as blades, and was backed up by laboratory materials testing, as well as stress analysis.
“This type of repair marks a new era, where we now feel more confident in testing our capabilities to return obsolete equipment to service, thereby supporting our customers in meeting their operational demands,” added Saad I. Al-Shamrani, MSSD manager.
“At Abqaiq Plants, we have always encouraged our workforce to explore ideas in collaboration with our partners, putting in place a crystal-clear objective to develop innovative solutions that extend the life of our assets alongside enhancing uptime and value,” said Sami S. Al-Huwais, Abqaiq Plants manager.
“The MSSD Quality Assurance Team worked hand-in-hand with the MSSD Engineering team to ensure the quality of our repair, and testing the turbine at trip speed in our ISO certified facility,” said Scott P. Freeman, MSSD quality assurance inspector.
best-in-class solution at lower cost and building the local economy
Repair costs were less than 15% of the cost of replacing the turbine — and was entirely designed and conducted by young Aramco engineers and technical staff. The repair technique used is applicable to over 280 single-stage steam turbines companywide.
“The reverse engineering center is an initiative that we capitalize on to provide best in class equipment repair services to return failed equipment into service in the shortest turnaround time,” said Mohammad A. Al-Suhaibani, Reverse Engineering Center leader at the MSSD Ju’aymah shops. “The center uses the latest technologies in parts scanning, modeling, and manufacturing to address all challenges related to providing spare parts for obsolete equipment, and long lead time spare parts.”
This initiative is in line with our mission to provide reliable, safe, and cost-effective integrated mechanical services and equipment repair while contributing to the development of the local economy. With this repair solution, Aramco has proven to be the first in the Kingdom, and in the whole of the GCC, to successfully redesign and manufacture critical rotating machinery with high-tech repair solutions.