There are many benefits of being a STLE member and/or going to the various meetings. Sometimes it can help to have a few concrete examples. What you gain can be very different depending on your specific applications but there should be something for almost anyone in the field.
Everyone is busy these days with all sorts of demands on our time so why add one more?
First, so that you can work smarter and have a nonbiased source of new ideas and a forum for intelligent discussions. Lots of stuff on the internet but much of it is often rubbish.
A few examples pertaining to power generation of what was learned by one member through STLE at the Sections ,Annual Meetings, Education Courses, through the STLE journals and personal communications;
1. Learned about the special requirements for greases used in gear and grid shaft couplings. Saved tens of thousands of dollars in reduced wear, extended relube intervals, reduced coupling lock-ups, reduced vibration and reduced downtime to replace worn couplings or to clean out the separated soap thickener in the coupling hubs. Cost? Maybe $10 a coupling! Savings >$100,000.
2. Learned about newer types of fire resistant phosphate ester fluids that solved health & safety issues at some power stations. At the time these had not been used in North America for the steam turbine control system applications. Issues were such that work stoppages were possible so savings possibly >$500,000 per day. These were used at a number of power stations.
3. Learned about and got contacts to design pressure dam bearings for 500MW 3600 rpm steam turbines. This was to solve a variable load situation that caused either wiping (localized melting) of babbitted bearings on start-ups or half speed whirl at full speed. Estimated to save over $4 million. Cost about $20,000 and used existing bearings.
4. Learned of the advantages of severely hydrotreated oils and successfully applied them to replace the standard steam turbine oil that had start reliability issues for a gas turbine lube system. This was because of wax causing higher pressure drops in the lube oil coolers mounted on outside walls. The advantage was the lower cloud point. Saved tens of thousands instead of having to use heat tracing and continuously running lube pumps.
5. Learned of the need to properly lubricate ball and rollers bearings. Very important because just 1 in 10 bearings reportedly reach their design life and fail by fatigue. L10h calculations almost useless if proper considerations are not given to the whole environment including design, operation and maintenance. Prepared a procedure to increase awareness of the problems and how to properly determine how much and how often to grease bearings. Savings for nuclear plants could have been in the millions if it prevented just one outage. Also worked in include ergonomic and maintainability considerations into equipment procurement.
6. Learned of the advantages of PAO’s which at the time were new and successfully applied them in a coal pulverizer gear box application where the payback because of energy savings was 122 day! Also the first use in the world in a gas turbine application to improve winter start reliability.
7. Learned of a new type of self-lubricating plastic called PEEK that was much more radiation resistant that fluorinated options and other options at the time. Successfully used in equipment designed for repairs of CANDU reactor pressure tubes. Savings likely millions.
8. Any one of the above fully justified the costs of membership and the time spent. In addition, the contacts made at STLE were invaluable in day to day work activities to help design, maintain and trouble shoot Tribological issues with equipment.