Generator maintenance – with a smile

My first appointment of the week was a planned maintenance visit, or “PMV”, to service a 330kVA generator. It was due for a thorough service and as it utilises industry standard engine and alternator, I made sure that I took a complete range of spares with me. As well as taking the generator spares, these days it’s important that our service engineers take the right documents with them, including a service visit sheet. Customers quite rightly ask for a risk assessment and method statement (RAMS) for major services on generators.

The first task with any generator maintenance job is to make everything safe to work on. I transferred the generator to manual so that I had full control – I didn’t want it starting suddenly. I always do a visual check before I start, including inspecting the canopy condition, hinges, silencer fixings and other parts that are subject to wear and tear. We have a comprehensive 50-point inspection plan that takes in coolant, antifreeze, hoses, and so on. We also change the air and oil filters, and the oil if it’s due on the service schedule.

The main reason that generators fail to start is because of problems with the electrics, typically a fault on the battery, so it always pays to check the electrics very carefully. I checked the battery itself, the charger and all the earth connections. It’s satisfying when a generator you’ve serviced starts first time, gives you the right output (400V in this case) and shuts down promptly when you hit the emergency stop button.

Finally, I switched the generator back to auto – very important!

I just managed to finish my well-earned coffee break before I took a call on my mobile. We had a report of a breakdown and I was the closest. I was sent the postcode and was on my way.

Preventative maintenance for generators

This customer had a 4-hour response time so we couldn’t let him down. He had a planned shutdown for the following night and had decided to test his generator and then discovered that it wouldn’t start. Interestingly, he had cancelled his last PMV because he was too busy – not a good idea even though it’s only a small generator.

The customer was so pleased to see me that he even helped me to park my van! The generator was switched to manual but refused to start. It was essential that we fixed it ready for the planned shutdown or all the planning would have been for nothing. I checked the battery and it was flat, which was unusual as the battery was no more than a year old. Further checks revealed that the charger had gone – no output. Fortunately, I had a spare in my van.

As well as fitting the new charger I charged his battery using my heavy-duty charger in the van. After running the generator up I carried out some other basic checks to reduce the risk of the unit failing again. The customer was happy and even brought me some tea.  Now, where did I put my KitKat?