Al Martens is a thermal station engineer and is responsible for the lubrication of all equipment at Nanticoke.
Ontario Power Generation
Test Kits used
Industrial 2 (IND 2)
Industrial 3 (IND 3)
WearCheck Canada Inc.)
Situated on the North shore of Lake Erie, near Port Dover, is the Nanticoke Thermal Generating Station. Nanticoke is the largest of Ontario’s five coal-fuelled generating stations, and at 4,100 megawatts (MW) is also one of the world’s largest. Each of Nanticoke’s eight generating units creates electrical power from jets of high-pressure steam propelling the blades of a large turbine. The turbine blades, in turn, cause an electromagnet to spin inside the wire coils of a generator producing electrical current. The electricity produced at Nanticoke Station accounts for 14% of all the power consumed by the province of Ontario.
Al Martens is a thermal station engineer at Nanticoke, and has worked for Ontario Hydro for the past 25 years. Currently, he is the assistant to the production maintenance supervisor, and his main responsiblity is the lubrication of all equipment on units 1 through 4 at the generating station. Al has been instrumental in setting up a lubrication schedule as well as an oil analysis and filtering program at Nanticoke.
Al is responsible for a large number of pulverizers, gearboxes, fans, and bearing systems at Nanticoke. The typical gearbox, at Nanticoke, has a reservoir that contains 1000 litres of oil, and runs a pulverizer that turns raw coal into dust prior to being blown into an industrial furnace. Each piece of equipment under his supervision is critical to the application at Nanticoke. “If you lose a piece of equipment, you lose megawatts”, he noted when asked about the seriousness of equipment reliability at Nanticoke.
In an effort to increase the efficiency of the generating station’s maintenance program, Al introduced a condition monitoring program into the Nanticoke G.S. two years ago. “I decided to become more proactive rather than reactive”, he remarked. “In the face of cutbacks on manpower we were forced to operate much smarter than before”. Becoming more proactive involved contacting WearCheck and beginning an oil analysis program.
Before the introduction of an oil analysis program, it was routine to perform maintenance on every piece of lubricated equipment at Nanticoke each year. After introducing a condition monitoring program into the generating station, Al quickly realized that this previous maintenance practice was inefficient and costly. “The greatest benefit of an oil analysis program is that it gives us an indication of which equipment requires an overhaul, rather than overhauling each piece of equipment”. He further noted that oil analysis has made maintenance at Nanticoke a very concious decision.
Al’s latest endeavour is the introduction of a filtering program at Nanticoke. The huge pulverizers used at the generating station to turn raw coal into dust are driven by large gearboxes. Coal dust is inevitably introduced into the gearboxes circulating oil, and causes severe wear of the systems if left unchecked. “We received a lot of reports from WearCheck indicating the contamination of the gearbox oil, and the need for off-line filtration”, he recalls. In response to this recommendation from WearCheck Al purchased an off-line filtration unit capable of filtering the oil from a 1000 litre gearbox reservoir in a few days. Using a 6 micron filter, he has been succesful in filtering the coal dust from EP 320 gear oil. The result: “we haven’t had one gearbox failure since we introduced the program six months ago”, he says smiling.
The shift from planned maintenance at Nanticoke, to proactive maintenance is evident. Each WearCheck report is reviewed as it is received. Any problems that are indicated by the oil analysis are taken seriously. The reports are used as grounds for generating a work order to either check the piece of equipment or to take it out of service for an overhaul. This shift to proactive maintenance is saving Ontario Hydro money, and ensuring the availability of electricity for Ontario.