Mark V and Mark VIe


Nothing like a simple question to start the day....

You are likely asking this question because GE or Baker Hughes is trying to scare you into “upgrading” a Mark V to a Mark VIe compatible system because GE or Baker Hughes no longer supports the Mark V and considers the Mark V to be obsolete. Nothing could be further from the truth; the Mark V is not obsolete and there is lots of support for it available from many other suppliers and providers other than GE or Baker Hughes.

There are definite advantages to upgrading to a Mark VIe compatible system—IF you want to invest a lot of time and money into re-training your operators and technicians. Or, you want to add new input or output devices or you want to change combustion system on a gas turbine.

The Mark VIe HMI has many very good features for analyzing Process- and Diagnostic Alarms that the Mark V does not—but they require tremendous investments of time and experience to effectively use them. The Mark VIe software tools, while impressive and powerful, still require a lot of user familiarization and study and practice—just like the Mark V. The major difference is that the Mark V required knowledge of many files and many steps to manipulate those files whereas the Mark VIe doesn’t force the operator to learn about all the “background files" because the interface (ToolboxST) takes care of all of them for you.

In the end, the upgraded Mark V (Mark VIe) still has to use the same inputs and outputs to control and protect the turbine because the turbine doesn’t change (unless you upgrade the combustion system for example or you replace the rotor to produce more power). What changes is the operator interface (you get a LOT of new, undocumented alarms (Process AND Diagnostic), and you get to buy new control system spares, and you get new, undocumented control schemes—because you are also getting all of GE’s latest and greatest (undocumented) control “enhancements” when you purchase an upgrade to your Mark V. And neither GE nor Baker Hughes can tell you precisely what enhancements they are providing nor how they will affect your plant operations.

If you are a technician and you want to know how a Mark Vi or Mark VIe differs from a Mark V because you know something about a Mark V and you want to apply for a job at a plant with a Mark VI or Mark VIe, well there are a LOT of differences and it will take a LOT of experience and familiarization to become as familiar as you currently are with the Mark V. The hardware and software are very different even though the types of inputs and outputs are similar and many of the signal names are also the same or similar.

So, the answer to your seemingly simple question is not so simple because you didn’t tell what the reason for your question was. Suffice it to say, though, that there are MANY similarities and many more differences and the documentation, while slightly improving, is not any better for self-learning.