Maintenance projects kept KPA Unicon and its subcontractors employed throughout Finland.

A few sporadic services were also performed on plants in Sweden and Croatia. The busiest maintenance season was scheduled for July and August. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, all the projects were completed safely and on schedule.

“Nowadays, the season starts as early as May and can last through September, even until the beginning of October. Before, maintenance projects were more concentrated in the months of June, July and August. This change has been affected by warm weather, among other things,” says service technician Eero Nurkkala. Nurkkala was involved in about 15 maintenance undertakings during the summer.

KPA Unicon’s maintenance services include, for example, servicing of boiler, conveyor, fuel handling and ash equipment – that is, almost all parts of the plant between the fuel station and the chimney.

In addition to the typical basic maintenance, last summer’s season included a few more demanding projects. Basic services included, for example, replacing grate plates and grate frame bearings for Biograte boilers as well as refurbishing fuel and ash conveyors. More demanding maintenance included superheater repairs and boiler pressure device modifications. Services were also performed on boilers other than those supplied by KPA Unicon and its predecessors.

“The maintenance sites were mainly solid fuel boilers, but we also did some maintenance on gas and oil boilers,” says Titta Rantonen. At KPA Unicon, Rantonen is responsible for resourcing maintenance.

In addition to carefully planned projects, customers’ ad hoc maintenance needs employed slightly more people this summer. For example, an exceptional number of plate changes were made during the maintenance season, according to Nurkkala.

Planning for next summer already underway

Especially for older plants, KPA Unicon offers a life cycle analysis service used to determine the current condition of the plant and the need for maintenance on a system-by-system basis. Nurkkala says that customers have received the service positively.

“This year, we have done some predictive maintenance, during which we have sorted out everything that needs to be done at the site. Based on the survey, we make a report that documents what needs to be fixed and at what time range: immediately, within three years, or later. We do this kind of work all the time.”

Planning for next summer’s maintenance season is already in full swing. Together with service engineers, the customer service teams are mapping out the need for maintenance during the winter months. In March-April, the need for resources for all sites is roughly calculated, and the situation is refined throughout the spring. The time required to service one plant depends on the target of the maintenance and the amount of work.

“On average, we determine the resources for a basic maintenance so that we will get the work done in a week. The maintenance breaks are rarely longer. The longest service this summer took three weeks,” says Rantonen.

KPA Unicon carries out maintenance projects together with its local, reliable and long-term subcontractors.

“For example, in the weeks of July, we usually carry out many services simultaneously; this past summer as well. For those, we booked the best experts in the right places with our cooperation network.”