MAN Energy Solutions (MAN) has completed the first, fully-remote, supervised commissioning of a compressor train at Uzbekistan’s largest chemical company, JSC Navoiyazot. Remote commissioning was brought about when installation work for a new nitric acid plant for fertilizer production was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the MAN’s commissioning team forced to leave the site due to the impending lockdown and associated travel restrictions within the country. In order to avoid delays and additional costs for the entire project, MAN and the engineering, procurement, construction contractor, Casale S.A., put in place an alternative plan to commission the machinery with remote supervision by MAN engineers using the company’s digital technology.
“There was no blueprint for such an unprecedented situation like this – every party involved in this project was challenged to try new ways of working,” said Luca Frediani, senior machinery engineer at Casale S.A. “Together with the customer, JSC Navoiyazot, we decided to carry out the commissioning of the nitric acid plant via remote service by engineers working from home. It was a bold decision since a fully-remote commissioning had never previously been performed for a machine of such sophistication and size. In order to perform this critical task, we worked in close collaboration – and with huge commitment from – MAN Energy Solutions and benefitted from their digital expertise and capabilities.”
Navoiyazot’s nitric-acid plant, with a capacity of 500,000 tons per year, successfully entered production in June 2020. The MAN compressor train comprises four machines: a steam turbine, an axial-type air compressor, a nitrous-gas centrifugal compressor, a tail-gas expander, plus auxiliary equipment including the control system.
The turbomachinery installed is equipped with digital hardware-components that allow remote access to the machine-control system, and which collect and evaluate operating and sensor data in near-real time. Simultaneously, the hardware also monitors the machine’s operation around the clock through the PrimeServ Assist application, powered by MAN CEON, MAN’s digital service platform.
One of the company’s newest remote-support tools, PrimeServ EyeTech, played a critical role (see “Assisted-Reality Turbomachinery Maintenance,” April 2020 Gas Compression Magazine, p. 60). The augmented-reality-assisted application allowed mobile collaboration to be set up via data glasses and other video-capable terminals like smartphones and laptops. In this way, the technical experts at MAN’s remote operation centers – with some working from their home offices – were able to view the customer’s perspective without having to be physically on-site.
“The corona-virus crisis required us to think and act outside the familiar bounds of the business,” said Mathias Scherer André, head of sales and execution, turbomachinery, at MAN. “Thanks to the giant digitization steps our company has made in recent years, we had the right digital solutions to overcome all difficulties and execute commissioning at Navoiyazot. The first fully-remote commissioning of a turbomachinery train ever executed in the industry marks an important milestone and highlights the innovation and flexibility of our company.