1 - Background.
T O P
- Amost all devices are designed in such a way that there is a procedure which the operator undertakes before he or she uses it. After use, there is also a procedure that is followed before it can be put away. Many of these procedures involve the safety of the user.
- PCs have to be "powered up" and "booted" before it can be used to compose this notepad-based html. The user pays a penalty for turning the switch to OFF position after finishing work, unless the PC is allowed to undertake its "housekeeping" chores at its own pace.
- One should never ever open a pressure cooker without allowing its steam to be relieved first.
- I have a very healthy respect for Start-Up and Shut-Down operations in power plants and other equipment. These are instances of the most severe temperature, pressure, flow, current, voltage and other transients that are experienced by these equipment.
- For example, the boiler metal temperature in the four "once-through" boilers installed in the Philippines must not experience an "increase" or "decrease" of more than 250 degrees Fahrenheit per hour.
- One pays a penaly for not strictly observing this restriction. Overheating the boiler tubes in this manner lead to the reduction of the strength of the metal. In time, these tubes develop leaks, or bursts. At 2700 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure, these leaks strike neighboring boiler tubes and has the effect of a high pressure cutter, also enducing failure on these other tubes.
- Eventually, the plant has to be shut down, not because of a design defect, or materials defect, or workmanship defect, but because of start-up and shut-down transients that were allowed.
2 - Manuals for Start-Up and Shut-Down Systems.
T O P
- A few months after the completion of the work on Emergency Systems, I gathered almost the same experts again from all over the country.
- The work was similar to the earlier one, but this time to identify specific steps in detail, arrange them according to whether these would be done concurrent with other, or whether they would be done in sequence.
- The result was a listing of all activities from the time the main power breaker is closed to the time that the power plant has reached its full power capability.
- The model followed was NASA's "countdown". The succeeding sequential step will not be cleared unless and until all the technical conditions for the preceeding steps (concurrent or otherwise) will have been complied.
- There was a further requirement that only the Plant Manager, or his duly authorized replacement, may authorize that the next step be undertaken.
- 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
- Benzon-Type ("once-through") power plants.
- Conventional oil-fired thermal power plants.
- Conventional coal-fired thermal power plants.
- Geothermal power plants.
- Storage hydro-electric plants at full operations or regulating mode.
- Run-of-river hydros.
- Diesel engine power plants.
- 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.
T O P
- 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".