Out of spec parts

How cheaper gets costlier: A true story of saving gone wrong

Sadly, for an ABB Turbocharging customer looking to minimize costs, purchasing spare parts from the open market turned out to be a costly experience. What initially looked like a bargain, proved an operational and financial headache for the marine customer.

In this specific case, the customer purchased a supposedly refurbished ABB TPS turbocharger from a third party to be used as a replacement unit. When the ABB Turbocharging team in the UK was called in to overhaul the customer’s TPS turbocharger, they discovered the situation was more complex than anticipated. The parts of the replacement turbocharger the customer purchased had not been maintained properly and were beyond repair. What’s more, the replacement unit did not match the specification of the customer’s application.

Unfortunately for the customer, the refurbished turbocharger from the non-ABB supplier was no use. Meaning, the £10,000 spent on buying the equipment was a total loss.

The high costs of averting trouble

As if taking a £10,000 hit was not bad enough, the customer would now incur additional costs for an express overhaul. In the absence of a functional spare unit, ABB would have to perform an express overhaul on the only existing unit. Instead of just swapping the turbocharger with a functional spare unit and take the turbocharger away for a less expensive non-urgent overhaul.

Crucially, the running hours of critical turbocharger components were not known when the customer purchased the turbocharger from the third party. According to ABB’s safety concept (SIKO), ABB recommends exchange after 50,000 running hours for the turbocharger parts of this application. However, the customer had no way of knowing these purchased parts had exceeded the recommended running hours. Therefore, exposing the turbocharger to a high risk of low cycle fatigue failure. Such a failure can have catastrophic consequences for the engine as a whole.

A misfortune with positive outcomes

Luckily, ABB’s engineers caught the mistake just in time and were able to save the situation, which could have resulted in disastrous damage to the customer’s equipment by installing the refurbished non-compatible ABB turbocharger.

Sophie Madeley

“I don’t want to consider what would have happened if they had approached a non-ABB provider to just clean it, as they wouldn’t have access to the correct specification.”

Valuable lessons learnt

As the customer discovered, it is essential to know the running hours of the components before purchasing. Had the parts been maintained by ABB, crucial details such as service history, correct application specifications, component intervals and modification history would have been recorded on the ABB Turbocharging product database.

In light of the discovery by ABB’s engineers, the customer realized the value of engaging ABB for the full lifecycle of its products including servicing and spare parts sourcing.