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elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge
11

elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

4
(OP)
I've been following the precipitous decline of the US and EU mfr's of electric power plant components, such as GE/Alstom/CE, BW, FW, Siemens. The loss of expertise and knowledge is astounding, and I assume that any future large central station power plants will have their components designed and fabricated in India and China. This observation is for both nuclear and fossil plants.

The trend implies a default committment has been made toward renewable technologies, and funding for research into these older technologies will also devolve in US and the EU, involving a change in university curriculum ( adios thermodynamics) . It implies that the remaining US and EU central stations will eventually rely on overseas technical support for repairing equipment and aftermarket demands,and those plants will learn to play the role that the steam locomotive played after the diesel-electric locomotive was introduced.

The funding for the technical support systems ( ASME) will also dry up, and the related industry conferences have already seen a gradual shrinking toward irrelevance.

One way to prevent complete loss of technical knowledge may be to have google archive the technical standards, research reports, and failure analyses of these mfrs and store them in some sort of library that is only searchable in some qualified manner ( TBD).

I have also noticed a growing form of "cultural amnesia" regarding the traumatic events of the 1940s-1964, where the newer generation of people are unfamiliar with , and actually deny the existence of, nuclear warheads, fallout, and related radiactive issues. Considering that it will take at least another 120 yrs to decommission the waste stockpiles and used fuel, this amnesia does not bode well.

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Superb post davefitz ! ..... This message summarizes many of the topics that bother me deeply, and you have stated things very well.

I believe that we, as a nation, should have a discussion about the "layers of loss" here that you seem to begin to address. .... and I am talking about the lack of people with technical skills in performing machine design, power engineering loss, studies to power plant operators, etc. etc..... and all the way down to reading blueprints, specifications and fundamental concepts!

Yes, I am well aware that I am a geezer and that "things were always better long ago" from a geezer vantage... but this is more serious..

AS A NATION, WE ARE GOING DOWN THE WRONG PATH !!!

But, there is now an empty socket in most organizations where there are no people with skills (or even to hire !) in the 30 to 45 year old age group !!!!

This group was all the people who went to become website designers, internet game developers, film directors and phone app designers etc.. etc.. etc........ Their skill are now lost

Unfortunately, there are also currently many evil people (MBAs) who feel that our nation can magically develop a complete "STEM" educational program, play with LEGOS for a few years and the system will excrete out all of the trained engineers, designers, machinists and electricians that you could ever want! ...... Do not bother that pretty head of yours learning Partial Differential Equations..... nobody need to do that anymore !!

Then magically, these people will be led by young professional women (members of Congress)to a mountain where there will be much chanting and prayer. The Confused Masses will be told to develop the "New Green Economy".... and do it right away !!!!

Climate change is coming, so we need a "Manhattan Project" effort !!!!

Then the fun will begin .....

MJCronin
Sr. Process Engineer

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Quote:

Then magically, these people will be led by young professional women (members of Congress)to a mountain where there will be much chanting and prayer. The Confused Masses will be told to develop the "New Green Economy".... and do it right away !!!!
Do you have Canadian roots?

Bill
--------------------
"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Dave,
Your question resonates.

Quote:

One way to prevent complete loss of technical knowledge may be to have google archive the technical standards, research reports, and failure analyses of these mfrs and store them in some sort of library that is only searchable in some qualified manner ( TBD).

Puzzled by this statement. In aerospace, what you ask for exists already, existed before the internet, and when the web came along, easily moved over there. I was taught my discipline from that body of knowledge. My textbooks referenced it all along. When I interact with other aerospace members of Eng-Tips, they all refer to the same stuff. Even when they can't name the origin, I recognize the jargon. One weak point is that today you can access the majority of it from a handful of agencies, and in the "winner takes all" internet we have today, what you can find elsewhere is negligible in comparison. If any one of those agencies decided to stop sharing their legacy information it would cause severe inconvenience, but not a loss of the information. There are many dedicated folks that keep a "backup" and some even share it on the net despite being redundant. I have my own little stash, in fact.

Does that not exist for power engineering? I have a copy of Marks Handbook, Perry's Handbook, the CRC Handbook, and a stack of other thermodynamic textbooks and stuff. Is there no link between that paper/text knowledge and the internet?

www.sparweb.ca

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

(OP)
Sparweb,

The US power industry is entirely made up of private companies, who protect their technical expertise with a combination of patents and confidential design standards. This protection both improves their competition in the market place as well as protects them from lawsuits. If they layoff all persons with more than 5 yrs experience, then one possible way to avoid complete loss of "corporate memory" is a combination of AI / expert systems plus digitizing all their internal reports and using persons familiar with library searches . The problem with this approach is that , lacking persons with personal technical knowlege, there is zero potential for creative solutions to new problems. It also begins the proces of "corporate amnesia" . One problem with amnesia is that you don't learn from past errors. On the other hand , amnesia also prevents inhibitions.

I think part of ther reason for protecting corporate technical expertise stems from a 1967 US supreme court ruling ( related to IBM/ Intel executives) that ruled that an engineer's technical knowlege in a particular focused area is not his personal possession, but is owned by the company he had worked for.

The information in Mark's and other handbooks, and college texts, is that these sources only provide fundamental information, and do not provide detailed guidelines and design procedures needed to confidently build large complex machinery, where the failure of one small part would compromise the operation of a $2 billion USD investment, and open the mfr up to a huge liability.

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Sparweb wrote:

Quote:

In aerospace, what you ask for exists already, existed before the internet, and when the web came along, easily moved over there.

Does that mean the drawings, plans and specifications for the Avro Arrow do in fact still exist somewhere? [tee hee]

CR

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." [Proverbs 27:17, NIV]

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

As most companies have done a very poor job of capturing knowledge this will keep happening in field after field.
A lot of work work has been done to capture information, but not knowledge.
In some fields (like mine, metallurgy) original references are simply not available unless you happen to own the old books.
I reviewed a paper recently and ripped the guy. He used a fairly std old diagram, but just referenced the last place that he saw it, and with none of the original source or backup information.
In many fields the young players will know what decisions were made, but not how or why.
Which poses serious risks for making the next set of decisions.
We can't farm this out, because the practicing engineers overseas where (for example) power plants are still being built is simply based on our experience. They don't know how to build a new unique plant from scratch, because they don't know the background either.
This haunts me at work.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

I noticed this effect in my own industry, automotive. Due to the cyclical nature of the industry, 50-65 year old experts in their fields are retrenched, never to be replaced. So I started an internal project for my group, to build a wiki, where we could document programs, and all the techniques and workarounds. The first part fell foul of our document retention schedules, which severely limits how long you can keep working documents (rather than final reports). The second, and perhaps more useful, part lives on as an ever growing accumulation of wisdom and experience. But, we are one IT upgrade away from losing it all, and of course it is invisible to most people inside the company, and everyone outside.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Fellow Retired Geezers,

Just make the damn Transition to the "Green New Deal" .... !!!! Our Lords and Masters want it DONE !!! ...... SOON !!!

Just do it ..... no backtalk ..... PUT DOWN YOUR DAMN 3:00PM APPLESAUCE !!!

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/climate/green-n...


You competent people got ten years.... make it happen !!!! ...... WE KNOW WHERE YOUR SS CHECKS ARE DEPOSITED !!!

We need you to come out of retirement and lead a brand new unskilled group in rebuilding the electrical generation and distribution systems of America .... In order to move things along and conform with the latest management philosophy, there will be one project manager, one PMP or MBA, one project scheduler, and one Project Historian per working engineer.

We don't want to hear any lame excuses like "no one makes that equipment anymore !!" or "None of these people can read any engineering drawings

Hurry, time is short !!!

Oh, and here are six busloads of help from the inner cities .... You may have to do quite a bit of training

No, they cannot weld, they have zero construction experience .... but, they have all completed their STEM LEGO assignments.

Ohhhhh .... Existing Power Plant records and drawings ? .... You Wrinklebutts want to review the existing plant records ???.... Too Late .....!!!All Plant Records have been discarded and are being burned as we speak ...

https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/01/f3...

Tell me I am Wrong ....

MJCronin
Sr. Process Engineer

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

@Davefitz,
The aerospace industry (in the West) employs a lot of research funded by both industry and government (via universities and agencies like the FAA and NASA). I think I take it for granted that there is a supply of current relevant information in my industry that I can use. Just this morning, for example, I reviewed a new memorandum from EASA (Euro Aviation Safety Agency) about validation of finite-element models that has some (surprisingly) pragmatic guidance to avoid the GIGO pitfalls that often happen in these sorts of models.

I try to imagine how I would work if I were denied access to that supply of information. It's hard to do. These days, a lot of people mourn the breakup of Bombardier and worry about the possible collapse of Boeing. There is not, associated with this, much concern about the loss of "tribal knowledge". While there will certainly be some of this, the state of the art is rather well established within every company by both regulators, academic sources, and "what works" knowledge.

Could it be possible that a similar sort of initiative would help to preserve the knowledge you believe will vanish from the energy industry as you know it?

Back to your own points, still with an aero twist. I have witnessed the East/West knowledge gap personally during a 3-week tour of a Chinese aircraft manufacturing company. I was brought there to participate in a knowledge exchange as they try to bring a new aircraft to market. What I saw was both inspiring and tragic. The energy and industriousness is every engineer's dream. Imagine a shop full of people eager to build anything you design! But... Deprived of any real personal knowledge of what a "western" aircraft actually looks like, these chinese workers came up with a horrifying machine. In every detail.

I have recently been training and mentoring new recruits to my company. Some are temporary interns, some are permanent. In most, there's an experience gap in terms of knowing anything practical about anything mechanical - a frustrating prospect for a novice engineer. I am learning to work around it, and to some I have provided opportunities to get hands-on with assembly, riveting, and one even got to try welding. If we want to promote the skills of the next generation, we have to be involved ourselves. I don't know how I can influence the broader disdain for mechanical work, the reluctance to touch machinery that seems prevalent in young people around me. They say they want to get practical experience but they don't own a wrench set and whine about paying a shop to change the battery in their car. There's only so much I can do to influence this - it's more of a motivation gap.

@Crshears,
Surprise surprise, look what turned up in Saskatchewan: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/saved-avr...

www.sparweb.ca

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

(OP)
Sparweb,

Aeropsace is strongly related to national security, much of its research is gov't funded, and it has a guaranteed customer . Many of the reports are publicly available to all, inlcuding to foreign governments. I recall that after the challenger accident ,there was a call to go back to using large single launch vehicles, such as the saturn 5, but the manufacturers say they lost the plans and would have to re-design it from scratch for the cost of an additional $2 billion USD. The russian embassy replied " no problem, we can send you a copy of the plans for $200 USD, since we copied them the day after they were released to the public in the 1960's." What we did instead is subcontracted a lot of launches to russia, since the EU's rockets were not , shall we say, successful.

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Quote:

Helanna Gessner, interim curatorial, exhibits and collections manager at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre, with Gord Barnes, posing with the original Avro Arrow blueprints. (Submitted by Diefenbaker Canada Centre)
What irony.

Bill
--------------------
"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

A few years ago we have a young Mechanical Engineer that had to Google "Saw Horse" to find out what the boss asked him to go get.

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Bless all the employees who knew better than to stupidly destroy every bit of the Arrow. It left a bunch of interesting historic bits that still exist.

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Anybody else ??...

I believe that this is an important thread and that there are many out there who have strong feelings about this


???????????????????????????????????????????????????????

MJCronin
Sr. Process Engineer

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

(OP)
MJC,

maybe so, but it is also possible that what we are seeing is the natural way that an outdated industry bites the dust. Its like the saying " old soldiers don't die, they just fade away". We saw the same behavior with the space launch industry, where the US depended on russia for 10+ yrs for launches, then SpaceX came along to replace the old way of getting off the planet.

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

With Saturn 5 remember that each engine had to be hand built, hand tuned, tested and re-built. They were not 'manufactured' as such.
In many cases 'lossing' old knowhow isn't such a big deal, people know the theory and then they develop solutions using new technology. The real disasters arise when they simply try to modify older technology without knowing and understanding why it was made the way it was.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

These comparisons don't have to be hi-tech.
Another analogy can be made with the detrimental effect the automobile industry had on the business of wheelwrights, leatherworkers, and blacksmiths at the time in the early 20th-century. There is very little of that craft left in North America, though it's not gone. On the other hand, the quality of life led by the horses may have improved dramatically with the invention of the automobile.

www.sparweb.ca

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

(OP)
I think that most of the horses that become "redundant" by the car became dog food and glue. Many of the fields that were used to produce hay are still lying fallow.They did not remove the special tax deduction for horses until the tax act of 1986 ( sponsored by Sen Al Gore), which also put an end to the gentleman's ranches that raised thoroughbred horses only for their tax deduction.

Before the advent of the diesel electric locomotive ( plus new sources of oil) something like 20% of the US employment was somehow associated with the railroad, as the labor needed to keep the coal fired steam locomotives was phenomenal.The diesel electric freed up a lot of "redundant" workers. Most trains needed to stop every 60-100 miles to refill the water tanks but a diesel could go 1000 miles nonstop.The railroads eventually passed the baton to the tractor trailers, following the implementation of Ike's Interstate highway system, designed to allow movement of trailer launched missiles and emergency landings of jets.The only remnant of the old steam locomotive railroads is their template for corporate structures and business suits.

I am sure similar strange relationships will be found related to hi-tech's intrusion into most citizen's personal spaces.

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Just a few months ago, when walking past our two most recent co-op students (3rd and 4th yr mechanical engineering students from a large, well-known Canadian university) who asked what I had in my hand as I stopped to chat. When I replied "It's a tachometer.", they asked in unison "What's a tachometer?" The 4th year chemical engineering student we had a couple of years ago, asked me at one point "What's a caulking gun?".

All three are nice, intelligent, polite young men - who haven't got one single clue about anything real.

I'm trying to imagine them being able to change a tire. And I can't...

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Change a tire? There's an AAAp for that :)

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Many years ago industrial plants were wired in schedule 40 steel or aluminum conduit.
That has all been replaced by TECK cable and Tray cable.
A few years ago I saw a couple of young electricians looking at this strange machine trying to figure out what it was and what it did.

Bill
--------------------
"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

(OP)
Well, at one time there was concern that technical progress will overwhelm humanity. Judging from the dumbing down of succeeding generations, it appears that such an event will not happen, as our culture seems to automatically limit the progress by the simple method of losing knowledgable persons to the grim reaper plus reducing the educational standards imposed on the next gen.

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

One place that I worked had all new hire engineers work on the floor for a spell. A EE would actually build a motor (stack lams and wind) and an ME would assist at a machine station and then assemble a pump. Not only did this overcome the 'what is that' questions but it helped build a common vocabulary so that when we were talking about a part we all knew what it was.
And that was years ago .....

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

A few years ago, Home Depot did a study that revealed that almost nobody in the generation of young adults coming along, knew how to use ANYTHING that they sell in their stores. This would have been a pretty dire revelation. They couldn't even buy anything like curtain rods, because they had no idea how to measure their windows.

And that is why Home Depot had to produce short videos like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M73r32vK7C4

To me - the fact that that video had to be made, means that as a society, we are pretty much doomed.

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Not a very useful video. More like a music video. It shows placing the red 16" mark at the center of a stud. Who does that? It may be called a center-to-center distance but the actual measurement is done edge-to-edge. But what should be expected when millenials are producing the videos?

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Anybody need "Green New Deal" Posters for our new world ?..... I have several hanging up in my office ....

https://creativeaction.network/products/the-green-...


_______________________________________




___________________________________________

I hope that, since the people in this poster are going to rebuild our electrical infrastructure, that they can handle a curtain rod .......

MJCronin
Sr. Process Engineer

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Bookmarked.

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Yeah, And in that poster for the Green New Deal, do you see any qualified, experienced, employed males?

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Do they exist in the future?

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Bah !!!!

Nobody agrees with me so .... TO HELL WITH IT ALL !!!!

I modestly propose that any team working on the GREEN NEW DEAL plans or replacement of the electrical infrastructure must

1) Must not be over 25 years old and be a graduate of a two year community college... Graduates with CAD backgrounds not permitted !!

2) No graduates with BS/MS degrees in Mathematics, Physics, any kind of engineering permitted

3) All teams working on these projects must reflect the make-up of the local population, be composed of at least 50% female and at least 25% minority. Hiring will be done based on Community Action group recommendations from the most nearby inner city

4) Each project team must have as a MINIMUM - Manager of Projects, two project Managers, Three Project schedulers, Manager of Engineering, Four Project document Controllers, One Diversity Manager, One Spiritual Leader and two or three people from Category 1) above.

5) There will be a two hour daily progress meeting with mandatory attendance for all

6) There will be a daily "PEP/RALLY- Spiritual Communion" meeting every day at 7:00 am

.... and on.... and on ...

Anyone ?

MJCronin
Sr. Process Engineer

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Sounds like the blind leading the blind. Oh, and you forgot about including blind people at the cash register of the lunch room.

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

MJCronin,
Your plan is impractical: The pep meeting must be between 8:30 to 4:00 (with coffee breaks at 9:30, 11:00, and 2:30, and don't forget lunch from 12 to 1. None of them will have even had coffee before 7:00 AM. Also, many will not pay attention during the progress meetings since they have to check on their cat video monitor on their phones.

www.sparweb.ca

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

You also forgot prayer time breaks at 12 and 3. 1 to 2:30 is new lunch time, 4 is reserved tea and crumpets time. And remember that Mondays and Fridays are travel days, so double up on those safety and progress meetings on Tues and Thursdays.

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

OMG. I forgot to mention gym time!

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Can I bring my pet to work?

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

No, but your pet can bring you to work.

xnuke
"Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.
Please see FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

That's great. I have a dog now, but I'm thinking of getting something less, you know, ordinary. Maybe an iguana or a maybe a boa, but not a parrot or a ferret....

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Bearded dragon as an emotional support animal; yeah, right.

CR

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." [Proverbs 27:17, NIV]

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Why not go all out. A gloucus atlanticus will absolutely amaze your Instagram followers.

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

"Blue Sea Slug", yeah I know the dude...

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

(OP)
It may be more likely that the past practice of congregating every day in an office is becoming outdated, and much of the office work will be done remotely ,either from home, or exported to workers overseas.The current covid 19 practices may become permanent, and office buildings may become vaccant, or opened to the homeless squaters.

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

2
Roughly half of the voters in the good old US of A believe it is their patriotic duty to make the rich richer no matter what. They have been succeeding to the max since the elections of 1980.

Now many of them are posting here, complaining of their success. What did they expect? Sending all the good jobs to China made a lot of people rich beyond the dreams of avarice. It also destroyed our technical superiority.

For the human race, the inmates will always be in charge of the asylum. For instance, see “nuclear power”, “Tea Party”, “MAGA.”

RE: elec power plant component mfr's are going kaput- lost expertise + knowledge

Not wanting to start a huge bun fight..

Quote (Windward)

It also destroyed our technical superiority.

You never really had it. Most of the huge tech has been on the back of imported immigrant skill sets. Now your limiting inward immigration your not pulling the brains in any more. The locals have always mostly wanted to be business managers not the grunts. Don't get me wrong there are plenty of home grown talent. Just not enough and no tradition of breeding it like Germany, Poland and Scotland do. Half of it is the way the education system is set up. Its been noticeable in Scotland after the Arts mafia got control of it that the number and quality of engineering talent has progressively reduced over the years.

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