Chile utility develops hydro maintenance pilot program

SANTIAGO, Chile 9/14/11 (PennWell) -- Hydro utility Endesa Chile plans to evaluate results by the end of the year from a pilot Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) program the company expects will increase the availability of its hydroelectric generating units, reduce costs, and improve asset management.

Endesa Chile, a subsidiary of Endesa Group of Spain, initiated CBM with the goal of designing an expert system to leverage the knowledge and experience of specialized personnel at its generating facilities. That is to enable the company to optimize preventive maintenance of generating units to reduce corrective maintenance, to predict faults, and to prolong useful life of equipment.

An expert system was designed that accumulates and analyzes all information obtained in real time from a power plant's monitoring system. It also integrates and processes all the data obtained by maintenance personnel and from laboratory reports, operations logs, and systems information.

Additionally, the experience of specialists is to be captured and retained using the expert systems, which are based on software designed to emulate the reasoning of specialists.

The pilot program was initiated at the end of 2010 at Endesa Chile's 570-MW Pehuenche hydroelectric project in central Chile. The two-unit project has been producing power for about 20 years, with output in 2010 totaling 2,091 gigawatt-hours.

Endesa said the Pehuenche plant offers ideal conditions for implementation of CBM, yielding a wide range of operational data.

Based on the results of the pilot project, the experiment is to be extended to all critical hydroelectric units in Latin America in which Endesa has an interest.

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