Active Hurricane Season?
by Bill Hogan
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has issued a pre-season Atlantic Hurricane forecast that calls for 13 to 20 named storms. This prediction includes 7 to 11 hurricanes with 3 to 6 being major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) with winds above 111 mph. This prediction is well above seasonal averages. Should this predication spur you to action? Of course, especially when your business relies on reliable backup power in an emergency. Backup power saved countless businesses millions of dollars in losses by providing the life blood of energy needed to provide needed supplies, emergency services, maintain productivity, and meet deadlines.
After a storm power lines are knocked down and transformers are blown over wide swaths of land. Crews roll in from different states to rebuild power, but it will be days. Emergency providers, telecommunications, groceries and hardware stores needed to provide support to the rebuilding area miles from the storm are without power. Can you imagine the relief on managers/storeowners’ faces after everything goes dark and seconds later power kicks-in? When all was lost a ray of hope shines through, “We can beat this.” When the diesel engines roared to life, power returned and they could provide the support necessary to help to those in need. Standby generators provide the necessary boost in energy needed to allow the rebuilding process to begin.
There is a hidden message in this story of recovery; a message of preparedness.
It was not an accident that these Generator Sets roar to life providing the best hope of recovery. Emergency Generator Sets must be regularly maintained to ensure they provide quality power throughout their service life. Owners of emergency generators may establish maintenance agreements with generator dealers/service centers in order to maintain their generator(s), automatic transfer switches, and other associated equipment. The life-cycle of power generators is then well established and documented making routine maintenance fairly straight-forward.
The long, outstanding use of generators over time has provided the necessary knowledge to predict when certain components will fail or be in need of service. A fairly reliable maintenance schedule can usually be acquired and can be employed by a local generator dealer/service center with experience in the power generation. Adhering to this schedule will ensure maximum service time for the generator and proper operation when it is called upon to provide power.
The main responsibility of the maintenance contractor would be to inspect systems, study the technical data provided by the generator manufacturer, maintain records, and take precautionary measures for safety.
Some of the steps to ensure smooth generator operation while carrying out scheduled maintenance include:
Small investments made in replacing components and maintaining generator systems on a regular basis can save expensive and unnecessary upgrades or even replacement of the entire generator in the future.
When performing routine maintenance, each action taken should be logged, and the readings and various parameters should be recorded along with the date of the inspection and hour meter readings of the generator. These set of readings are compared with the next set of data collected. Any absurd variation of readings indicates faulty performance of the unit.
Load testing of automatic transfer switches in regular intervals keeps track of the component’s electrical and mechanical integrity in the actual mechanical transfer operation. Other factors to be checked periodically are starting and time relays, start signal continuity, fuel, and oil sampling.
Proper preventative maintenance ensures that you get back-up power when you need it. You can be confident of service on a priority basis in case of dire emergency and discounted service rates for additional work. Once a facility enters into a service agreement, the facility can relax on this aspect as the maintenance provider keeps track of when the next service inspection is due and makes the visits at regular intervals. They ensure that the products purchased through them receive consistent and reliable service.
Whether you use an expert outside contractor (preferred method) or choose to do the work yourself, it is important to keep to your maintenance / testing schedule. Equally important is to have highly trained and certified technicians maintaining your equipment. Do not leave anything to chance unless you can afford to be without reliable power when you need it.
Proper maintenance and servicing is the key to reliability. Remember the seven P’s of emergency power; Prior Proper Preventative Preparation Precludes Power Problems. You never know when the ill winds of fate will blow another storm in your direction.
Bill Hogan, Marketing & Technology, is with ACF Standby Systems with offices through Florida. For more information, visit www.acfstandbysystems.com.