The development in the computer networking area has been growing in the past few years in connection with the prevaling of the open system concepts and with the improvement in microcomputers as opposed to minicomputers technology. Compared to the structure of a centralized system, a distribuited structure gives the following advantages: functional flexibility, maintainability, software rangeability and friendly interface with the operator.

Based on several years of field experience. Nuovo Pignone has developed an on-line diagnostic system for turbomachines made up of integrated hardware and software modules designed for optimum management of information coming from turbomachines. The system controls the mechanical and thermodynamic behaviour of the machines, thus providing an effective support to their operation and maintenance. This results in an increased availability lower maintainance costs and improved plant efficiency.

A mathematical model, based on Gas Path Analysis (G.P.A.) methodology, has been implemented in the system and has already been successfully tested in several industrial applications, quite similar to Cortemaggiore plant.

The experience gained in the Cortemaggiore gas compression station indicates that the main problem arises in interpretation of the data coming from the system. The Diagnostic System gives plenty of data, suitably arranged, to support the maintenance staff in their duties. Nevertheless is the operator who had to interpretate data, correlate thermodynamic information with mechanical data and decide on the best course of action. Taking into account that many plants are not continuously attended by highly experienced technicians in this domain, Nuovo Pignone has developed an Expert System, integrated with the Diagnostic Packages, that incorporates all the information acquired from skilled field engineers during years of activities.

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