Back-up power systems

Back-up power systems are becoming an essential part of most businesses nowadays as our electricity supplies become increasingly less reliable. More and more companies and government organisations are investing in generators & Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPS) to ensure their operations keep running or their data isn’t lost in the event of power failure.

A power cut in the UK is now becoming an inevitable occurrence and it has become critical for businesses and public sector organisations to have a back-up power system. But are you looking after it properly or are the daily challenges with FM budgets pushing it down the to-do list?

Looking after your back-up generator usually comes down to the following questions:

How crucial is it?

What would happen in the event of a power cut? Would everyone simply have to go home, or wait around aimlessly, but could happily pick up where they left off when the power came back? Or is it more serious than that? Could important data be lost forever? Would production stop? If so what is the cost of an hour lost in production? Or worse still could loss of power actually cost lives?

Do I have the budget for it? a real challenge for FM Contract Managers as they try to manage a tight budget and are often incentivized to not spend. It all depends on how much of risk you are taking and considering some of the points above will no doubt be part of this process. It is however more cost effective in the long run to ensure you are taking the right steps and conducting proper preventative maintenance on your back-up generators to minimize the nasty surprises and expensive remedial costs. To manage your budgets you need to try and keep on top of the lifetime costs of any plant you have on site. Below is a guide to potential costs that you could incur during the first 10 years from having a new generator installed (this example is based on a 400-500 kVA set):

As you can see after about 10 years from installing a new generator your control panel could become obsolete, knowing this and the potential costs of replacing it allow you to manage your clients expectations with regards to simple failures on this part of your system.

So what should you be doing if you have a back-up generator on site?

1.    Have a maintenance schedule in place with a specialist in these systems. The manufacturers recommendation would be to service a standby set twice a year (one minor, one major) changing some of the filters and checking the oil quality annually.

2.    Run the set monthly. Using your own in house team you should run a diesel generator for at least 30 minutes every month. Running, or exercising, your generator regularly helps to insure it will start when you really need it. It lubricates the engine by circulating oil, works to recharge the battery and allows for any issues to be identified early. This keeps the generator ready to go when the power goes out.

3.    Load bank test. It’s not always possible to shut down the power to a site to test the generator on the load of the building and even if it is the load is often dispersed, unpredictable and random. Therefore load bank testing is essential. Load banking is a technique used to determine maximum back-up power system performance and should be performed regularly. A load bank is a self-contained unit that applies controlled load on a power system. It consists of load elements with controls that allow an operator to incrementally step and vary the load.

4.    Keep the set in optimum condition. It is unfortunately more often than not that we find decision makers are delaying getting recommended work done even on some breakdowns. Again this reflects back to the points previously made about how critical the system is and where the money is coming from. All diesel engines have consumable parts, exactly the same as your car. Hoses have a lifespan of 5 to 7 years and are relatively inexpensive to replace especially if dealt with early and replaced on the next service visit. The batteries need replacing more often (if Lead Acid) and these are essential in ensuring the generator starts successfully when called upon. A good honest service partner will work with you to identify these inevitable costs and help you to reduce the overall lifetime financial burden.

Contact PPSPower now by emailing or calling 0845 2009876.

  Link to this article:
(Copy and paste the following code to your web page.)

Education Magazine | Advertising | Education Emails - More Articles