The Engines unit safeguards Finland’s security of supply
Patria’s Engines business focuses on the overhaul, maintenance and repair of aircraft engines for the Finnish Defence Forces. Maintenance of aircraft engine-like industrial gas turbines at backup power plants and diesel engines, especially on board ships and in power generation, is a natural addition to its service portfolio.
Fingrid is the Finnish electricity transmission grid operator, responsible for the functionality of the electricity transmission system. In the event of disruptions in electricity generation, Fingrid can draw on reserve power of 1,300 MW – this ensures power supply for our country even if the largest power plant unit or a cross-border connection were to drop from the grid.
Fingrid has a total of 10 of its own backup power plants, with more than 20 power plant units. Patria’s maintenance cooperation covers almost all of Fingrid’s units in Southern Finland. This cooperation goes back some 20 years and includes annual scheduled maintenance of gas turbines, project-based improvements, urgent repairs and specialist services.
“We maintain the start-up reliability of backup power plants by testing and test-running each unit at six-week intervals. The reserve power is always on standby at the press of a button, even though only a few incidents each year require switching it on,” says Sampsa Holmberg, Power Plant Manager at Fingrid.
Most often we can arrive on site very quickly. If necessary, we can take a faulty gas turbine to our workshop for inspection and repairs. No incident has been left unresolved over the years.
“If there are problems with Fingrid’s test-runs or start-ups during simulated or real-life incidents, for instance, we are on 24-hour standby to go to site. Such situations are infrequent, but we must be on call 24/7 because reserve power is crucial,” says Anita Korsberg, Business Area Manager, Energy, at Patria.
The maintenance business is heavily competitive. In her view, among the decisive factors why Fingrid has chosen to continue cooperating with Patria are the company’s expertise and ability to understand the client’s obligations. Safeguarding Finland’s energy management to ensure security of supply is prescribed in law.
“Most often we can arrive on site very quickly. If necessary, we can take a faulty gas turbine to our workshop for inspection and repairs. No incident has been left unresolved over the years,” says Korsberg.
Fingrid and Patria’s cooperation is based on precise anticipation of needs. The companies have now renewed their agreement, which also focuses on collecting, analysing and utilising data from turbines.
“When our cooperation began, we carried out demanding basic maintenance and eliminated problems. Now we don’t have to do everything from the ground up. We can concentrate on lighter annual maintenance to the extent required, carried out on site. The schedule is based on anticipated needs,” says Taisto Äkräs, Gas Turbine Specialist at Patria.
Äkräs emphasises that Patria has developed its own processes continuously. A team of Patria installers and experts have specialised in this particular engine base. Gas turbines have a service life of decades and are built for durability – but ageing is the greatest cause of faults. Thanks to development efforts, data analysis is now also provided as a specialist service.
“Test-runs produce data – we analyse it to anticipate faults and necessary repairs. Maintenance can be carried out smoothly on the basis of this data during operational shutdowns. Continuous monitoring prevents the engines from being run until they fail,” says Holmberg from Fingrid.
The specialist expertise of Patria’s Engines unit also includes the emergency diesel generators of nuclear power plants. These, too, are critical to security of supply – they start up automatically in the event of a power plant failure. In addition, all the safety systems of nuclear power plants are supplied with electricity from the diesel emergency power system.
Finland uses four nuclear plant units to generate electricity, two in Olkiluoto, Eurajoki, and two in Loviisa. A third unit is being completed in Olkiluoto.
Security of supply ensures a functioning society under all circumstances.
“The diesel generators are transported for overhauling to the engine workshop in Linnavuori. The engine is completely dismantled. All the parts are inspected. Ageing and wearing parts such as bearings and rubber components are replaced. We also test-run the engines here,” says Korsberg.
“We service and repair emergency diesel generators also on site at the nuclear power plants if necessary. This ensures that we have reserve power available when it is needed.”
The engines are up to the size of a minibus and can weigh as much as 32 tons. The maintenance work is ISO quality certified and demands specialist expertise and understanding of the requirements of both nuclear safety and security of supply. Long-term cooperation with the customer also maintains professional expertise, which is supported with regular training. Security of supply is in reliable hands.
Text: Anneli Frantti