By Sarah Byrne

ELECTRIFICATION, automation and digitalisation are the key to Siemens’ approach in Australia according to the group’s vice president of oil, gas and energy in Australia, David Pryke.

Coal seam gas plants in Queensland according to Mr Pryke have traditionally used gas driven mechanical drives for compressions, but Siemens has employed the use of electric drives to bring down costs at these plants.

“The advantage of electric drives is the availability is a lot higher,” he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 18th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas  in Perth, Mr Pryke told Oil & Gas Australia that plants with gas turbines were likely to have significant maintenance shut downs every two or three years.

“An electric motor will run almost continuously with no service,” he said.

The often remote location of these plants was also a key advantage of electrification.

Fly-in fly-out costs for staff required to access the plant to complete servicing work is an added expense to the plant’s operations.

Mr Pryke said by increasing the reliability of the plant there is less need for maintenance and as a result increased availability of the facility.

“By electrifying the plant rather than mechanically driving the facility, it reduces maintenance and allows increased automation with less people needed to run the plant.”

With higher levels of automation at the facility which results in the collection of a significant amount of data, most of the maintenance activity is based on productive maintenance, according to Mr Pryke.

Through the monitoring of this data, the operator can predict failures or problems at the plant and then either prevent the failure prior to it occurring or estimate when maintenance will be required.

Ralf-Ruckert-2In the case of predicting maintenance or servicing of equipment at the facility, the use of data allows the operator to have the relevant people and equipment ready to complete the work, which reduces shut down time at the plant, Mr Pryke said.

Reflecting on low commodity prices, Mr Pryke remained positive and said with liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants needing to be fed, there will always be a need in Australian to find new gas deposits to feed existing infrastructure.

Showing its confidence in the future of the industry, in February Siemens made a $20 million investment with the opening of a state-of-the-art service centre in Perth.

Opened with a visit from global head of customer service for Siemens’ industrial businesses Thomas Moser, the Perth facility is the third Siemens service centre opened in Australia in less than two years.

Dr Moser said investments are challenged with falling resource prices and at the same time the world is entering a new industrial era enabled by digitalisation.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical for companies to embrace hi-tech service to produce more at lower costs and avoid downtime that can cause losses and negatively impact company share prices.”

Siemen’s Perth centre has the capacity to service motors, generators and variable speed drives.

The service centre has a $5 million specialised test-bed for electric motors with a load test facility which means that any of the motors being overhauled can be fully simulated to run as in installed conditions.

A remote service hub that serves as a location for experts to monitor equipment and key plants anywhere in Australia is included in this investment and will utilise cloud based data analytics to optimise performance of the facility and equipment.

Siemen’s facility also includes a 20 tonne balancing machine, storage,  and knowledge and training services.

Operational phases represent about 95 per cent of the lifecycle costs, this is compares to just 5% or less in the capital investment phase, so high-tech service is critical to drive increased overall equipment effectiveness while reducing these operational costs, Dr Moser added.