By Evelyn Long
Industrial generators can be the beating heart of an operation—or any other project site that isn’t connected to the local grid. These generators make it possible to run equipment, lights, and anything else necessary for the completion of a project. This is particularly true in seasons with adverse weather conditions, where a thunderstorm or flood can knock out power without much warning.
Of course, this level of assurance requires a certain level of maintenance. If a generator fails, it can cause the entire project to grind to a halt. What does it take to keep industrial generators in peak operational condition?
Inspect Them Routinely
One of the easiest ways to detect a new problem is to carry out routine inspections. Ideally, a generator should be inspected before it is started for the shift, and at each refueling break to ensure that everything is working as it should and there are no leaks that might indicate a breakdown.
If you’re not sure where to start, a basic generator checklist might be helpful. This standardizes processes for crew members, and guarantees that generator inspections are considered a norm in everyday work schedules.
Within a few years, this could become even easier. New technology may be able to identify problems before they happen. Inspection and performance data can be added to a machine learning program that can, by using information from past events, predict when problems might occur.
Maintain Them Frequently
When facilities purchase a generator, it should come with a recommended maintenance schedule included in the operator’s manual as well as a record of machine age and usage hours.
These schedules are written with years of experience and testing in mind and use that data to determine the best maintenance intervals for each make and model. Use this maintenance schedule to build a program that will take each generator offline in a specific order so it can be maintained without negatively impacting job site productivity.
Keeping steady, accurate maintenance records throughout ownership also has the benefit of increased resale value should a facility look to replace or sell the generator in the future. Treating a generator as the investment it is can help facilities both financially and operationally.
Test the Battery
Like with a car, a battery is necessary to start the engine. Severe high or low temperatures, improper charging, age, and a handful of other factors can all impact the battery’s lifespan. And once it dies, getting your generator started is nearly impossible.
Testing the batteries on a regular basis can ensure the generator will always start when it’s needed. A simple load test can determine whether there are any bad cells within the battery and if it’s capable of handling the necessary load to start the generator engine.
Choose Your Fuel Wisely
Industrial generators come with a variety of different fuel requirements. Choosing low-quality fuel might seem like a money saver in the short term, but in the long run, poor-quality fuels can damage internal engine components and reduce the life expectancy of the generator.
Over time, lower-quality fuel can clog or wear out fuel injectors, damage and clog fuel lines, and cause a number of other internal engine problems that can be expensive or difficult to repair. Over time, the best and most cost-effective choice is to choose high-quality fuel for your generators.
Keep Generators Clean
Generators get dirty, dusty, and grimy on construction sites or in industrial settings. This is a fact of life. But leaving them dirty can make it more difficult to tell if a new leak has developed or a problem has emerged that might be hidden by the grime.
Generators don’t need to be spotless, but keeping them at least moderately clean will keep the dirt from hiding any indicators that you might need to pay closer attention to.
Start Them Periodically
If you’re not using a generator frequently, don’t just leave it in storage until you need it again. Portable generators need to be started once a week or once a month to ensure the internal components remain lubricated.
If it’s going to be stored for longer periods than that, you’ll need to take additional steps, such as changing the oil and adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank to keep the fuel from turning to a jelly-like consistency that could damage the fuel system.
Store Them Carefully
The generator might be outdoors every day, rain or shine, but there’s no reason to leave it out there if it doesn’t need to be. Store the generator carefully when it’s not in use.
Putting it indoors—in a garage or warehouse—is the best option. But if that isn’t feasible due to size or a lack of storage space, keep the generator covered with a tarp or fitted cover when it’s idle.
Ensuring Reliability From Industrial Generators
Industrial generators can keep facilities running even in severe weather events. However, maintaining this level of reliability requires strong organizational skills and set standards for machinery use and care.
Whether you buy your generator new or used, it won’t keep running forever if you don’t take care of it. Follow a few simple steps and you’ll have something reliable that powers your work for years to come.
Long is a writer and editor focused on construction. She is the co-founder of Renovated, a web magazine for the home and building industry.