Standby generators are used to supply power to a varying electrical load for the duration of a mains utility power outage. Such a break in power can have a serious effect on life as well as having a huge financial impact on business so the need for continuity of power is becoming increasingly critical.
A well-maintained standby generator has a design life of more than 25 years based on 500 hours per annum.
Purchasing quality equipment that utilises the best design, quality materials and manufacturing precision will greatly influence the lifespan of your machine.
To achieve this design life, a planned preventative maintenance program (PPM) should be implemented, wherever possible utilising genuine OEM parts. PPM and service are typically conducted on a schedule which is based on time periods known as the maintenance cycle or actual running hours if used for non-standby applications. This cycle should be adapted to meet each application requirements. Essentially if an engine operates for more than the standard hours it will need more servicing, if it operates in an extreme environment (hot/cold/humid or dusty such as quarry) it will also need more servicing.
Annual maintenance will consist of a combination of major and minor PM visits and tests conducted by a manufacturer trained service engineer, covering the main system components: fuel system, lubrication system, air systems, starting system batteries and charger, coolant system, alternator and transfer switch.
To ensure any generator is fully operational, tests conducted should include:
* Running the generator for 5 to 10 minutes weekly, proving its ability to start in an emergency.
∗ Once a month, a mains failure simulation test should be conducted, running the generator on the available site load for one hour. This proves the changeover arrangement is operational and the generator can support the site load.
∗ Should the site load be less 30%, it is recommended that on an annual basis, an artificial load bank is attached to run the generator at 100% load to prevent excessive carbon build-up.
A robust programme of routine servicing and preventative maintenance helps to safeguard the long service life of engines and alternators, ensuring your generator is ready when you need it throughout its expected lifecycle.
It should be noted that the beating heart of every diesel generator is the control system. The control system plays a crucial role in maintaining and managing your generator. Whilst the technology behind alternators and engines changes little year on year, electronic components and electrical controls are continually evolving to meet ever-demanding requirements and specifications.
This often means a perfectly viable engine and alternator risk becoming redundant due to outdated control technology and component obsolescence.
With constantly moving and improved technology, control manufacturers often cease making and supporting older versions of their products. In the event of failure, this makes sourcing replacement parts problematic and costly, creating periods of extended downtime, and putting your power continuity, and ultimately your business, at risk.
Additionally, older control systems present very little by way of the capability, usually because the technology was simply not available ten to 25 years ago. Any older system with an aging or obsolete control system, therefore, increases the risk to your continuity of power.
A cost-effective way to extend the life of your generator and ensure continuity of your power supply, is to upgrade or refurbish your control system.
Modern control systems offer increased functionality, including remote monitoring options, and reduce the risk of failure or faults as they are more resilient than older models.
A new digital control system can provide anything from a simple local start to remotely controlled and managed synchronised sets. Generators with communications ports can have alarms monitored remotely, offer full system data visibility and management, all via a laptop or smartphone from anywhere in the world, offering complete system flexibility and enhanced capabilities.
Even with the best maintenance regimes, it is essential to keep your control system up to date and reliable. Act today, do not wait until you have a controls failure and need to endure extended downtime and a major interruption to your power continuity.