Top Priority: Industrial Generator Maintenance

The primary responsibilities of industrial generator maintenance contractors are to maintain records, learn the manufacturer’s technical information, inspect the engines and systems, and take the manufacturer’s suggested precautionary safety measures. There are steps to take while carrying out scheduled maintenance to ensure reliable generator operation, including:

  • Removing worn out parts
  • Upgrading components as necessary
  • Checking fluid levels
  • Verifying control panel indicators and readings
  • Load bank testing
  • Changing air and fuel filters

When carrying out routine maintenance on diesel or natural gas power generators, the technician must record each action in the system’s log book; various readings and parameters are also logged along with the inspection date and hour meter reading of the generator. With this history, any variation in the readings can be an indicator of a fault within the unit, impacting its performance.

Regular load testing intervals of the automatic transfer switches help keep track of the unit’s mechanical and electrical integrity during the mechanical transfer operation. Other factors that should be checked periodically are:

  • Timing and starting relays
  • Utility phase sensors
  • Start signal continuity

Replacing worn components and maintaining a unit regularly are small investments that can save big on expensive and unnecessary upgrades. They can even save you from replacing the entire genset in the future.

Preventative maintenance is the best way to ensure you have an uninterrupted power supply. Diesel generator sets, whether used for back up (emergency) or primary power, must be maintained regularly to provide quality power throughout their service lives. Some larger companies who maintain many generators (or if the generator is being used as a primary power source) may employ an in-house engineer to oversee the maintenance of their gensets. Smaller companies who use generators primarily for backup in emergency outages often have a contracted agreement with a generator dealer or electrical contractor. Either way, the life-cycle of industrial power generators is well known and documented so that routine maintenance of them is fairly straightforward. Best practice for generator maintenance is to follow the maintenance schedule suggested by the generator’s manufacturer, such as the documentation provided by companies such as Cummins and Caterpillar.

The history of generator usage helps predict when the generator needs service, or if it will fail. A reliable maintenance schedule can usually be obtained from the manufacturer and can be overseen by electrical contractors/engineers or a local generator dealer. Conforming to these schedules will safeguard the generator units, and ensure proper operation and maximum service time. Larger manufacturers of industrial generators have well-established maintenance routines and will service not only their own generators, but many of the other major brands in the industry as well.

Whatever routine method you choose, it is vital to the operation and life-cycle of your industrial generators to have routine, manufacturer suggested maintenance and to keep that maintenance as well-documented as possible. This attention to detail will add years to your units’ lifespans, and will give you integrity and confidence in your operation as a whole.