A rotating compressor blade in a multi-ton gas turbine is broken; the power plant has to go offline. Millions of Euros lost with no clear answer as to the cause. Defective design, material failure or human error after all? This is a case that calls for the loss assessment experts from theAllianzCenterfor Technology (Allianz Zentrum für Technik or AZT). Their diagnosis: In a routine replacement of parts, compressor blades with a slightly different material composition were used, which could not sufficiently absorb the vibrations – and without failure the inevitable consequence.
The center has investigated many similar major industrial losses during its 80 years of existence – from the Hindenburg airship disaster (1937) to the turbine shaft accident at the Irsching power plant in 1987 to material problems in modern power plant boilers. Aside from loss assessments, the center, which is now part of Allianz’s industrial insurance carrier Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), also provides expertise in loss prevention. To mark AZT’s 80th anniversary, a comprehensive report has been published, which provides an in-depth look at how the center operates and showcases many of its ongoing research projects.
Experts for industrial technology
AZT specializes in industrial technologies such as energy, power plant technologies and engineering. The center’s 15 engineers – among them electrical, mechanical or process engineers as well as chemists and material experts – investigate damages to core industrial equipment such as boilers, turbines, drives, generators and transformers. “The insights we gain from our assessments benefit not only us as an industrial insurer but our clients as well,” explains Dr. Johannes Stoiber, who jointly heads AZT with Stefan Thumm.
The specialist reports compiled from these investigations are used not only to analyze claims incidents but also to improve risk assessment by AGCS’s underwriters when insuring technical risks. The lessons learned are communicated to the affected companies as well, giving them the tools they need to develop practical responses and prevent future losses.“This way, we help each other to learn from damages,” says Stoiber.