Emergency Systems for Power Plants, Substations and Transmission Lines

1 - Background
2 - Generating Manuals for Emergency Systems
3 - Motivational and Organizational Benefits

Related Matters
4 - Start-Up and Shut-Down Systems
5 - Shift Turnover System

1 - Background.        

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  • I refer to "Emergency Systems" as those devices that serve as our last lines of defence.

  • Pedal brakes, engine brakes in a manual transmission vehicle, parking brakes, and the ignition switch, provide us the capability to stop the vehicle when there is an object in front of us that we do not intend to ram into.

  • Fuses, circuit breakers, etc., also provide the same function. Fuses blow and circuit breakers trip when they sense overcurrent in the equipment or device that could lead to its destruction.

  • One would never ever want to provide a circuit breaker to protect a DC motor that drives an emergency oil pump that protects the bearings of a large steam turbine, when all the power to the AC power to the power station will have failed.

  • Let the emergency DC motor pump and pump oil even if it burns itself in the process because it is protecting a major equipment. The argument that it may set the plant on fire is a lame one because an adequate fire prevention system could always be designed.

  • Protecting this emergency DC motor could mean the difference between the turbine surviving the coasting friction, or having it repaired for nine (9) months, an unacceptable condition where the plant would not be generating revenues within this time, but simply expense. Unless the company's financial condition is robust, this condition could set the stage for bankruptcy.

2 - Generating Manuals for Emergency Systems.        

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  • In 1981, I was assigned to take charge of the nation-wide operations of the National Power Corporation (a power production and transmission company owned and controlled by the Philippine Government). This included putting the power crisis in the country under control.

  • One of my very first decisions was to pick out 120 of the best engineers from a total staff of 12,000 people.

  • I simply asked them to put in booklet form, everything they know about the last lines of defense for each installation.

  • This involved the following

    1. Benzon-Type ("once-through") power plants.

    2. Conventional oil-fired thermal power plants.

    3. Conventional coal-fired thermal power plants.

    4. Geothermal power plants.

    5. Storage hydro-electric plants at full operations or regulating mode.

    6. Run-of-river hydros.

    7. Diesel engine power plants.

    8. 230-KV, 115-KV and 69-KV substations and transmission lines.

  • These expert ladies and gentlemen completed their excellent work after four months.

  • The work was bound in oil-resistant folders so that they could be dropped on a dirty or oily surface and simply wipe the dirt off afterwards.

  • Five thousand copies were printed and distributed to EACH operating personnel.

3 - Motivational and Organizational Benefits.        

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  • In and of itself, this exercise produced a positive side-effect - that of having been able to communicate and share their skills with their peers.

  • From a relatively fragmented organization, a bond around the technical aspects of the workplace was developed.

  • This was a welcome breath of fresh air since the organization was, and is, essentially a technical one.

  • Using current jargon, this turned out to be the manifestation of "staff empowerment".