Reliability of emergency and backup generators is critical for uninterrupted operations in many services and industries. Regular fluids analysis helps ensure these units can be depended upon when needed.
Emergency and backup power generator units play an important role supporting uninterrupted operations in communications, hospitals/health care facilities, and essential industrial and service providers. Since emergency and backup power generators do not run on a regular basis it is important to ensure reliability of these power generators when they are needed and called upon to perform their tasks.
NFPA 101(12), Sec. 126.96.36.199 certification requirements maintain that emergency generators providing power are to be tested and maintained in accordance with NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems. NFPA 101(12), Sec. 188.8.131.52 also requires that, where required for compliance, emergency generators and standby power systems be tested and maintained in accordance with certification requirements.
A component of ensuring generator reliability when equipment does not run on a regular basis is routine testing of the lubricant, coolant, and fuel. This testing ensures the reliabity of the various fluids a generator relays on to operate properly. Testing also monitors the health of the equipment in order to alert maintenance personnel to potential mechanical problems detected. Failure of backup power can results in important service and care disruptions when they are most needed. The cost of equipment failure in emergency and backup power generators goes beyond the cost of repairs.
Through the analysis of the lubricant and coolant it is possible to detect abnormalities that might be damaging to equipment and correct them before a failure and forced shutdown. Fuel testing for ingress of contaminants and storage stability in these systems ensure reliabity while in long term storage.
Emergency and backup power generators sampling and testing schedules are dependent upon various factors, which include certification, compliance and safety standards. Work environment will influence determination of testing frequency. The severity of the consequences when equipment fails is also a factor in sampling and testing schedules. Safety standards influence the scope and frequency of testing. Documentation on file of testing performed is frequently a requirement which communication, healthcare facilities and essential service providers may need to comply with.
When looking into performing testing of fluids used in emergency and backup power generators there are several factors to consider. It is important to use an accredited testing laboratory to perform these analysis services, such as ISO 17025 accreditation. Certified laboratory staff is also an important factor. Training and documentation on proper sampling practices should be in effect for operators and maintenance personnel. Procedures for test report review and follow up should be in place.
Testing is an important component to an overall maintenance and inspection program. An industry recognized testing laboratory can assist with establishing a testing program that takes into account testing scope and reporting requirements to ensure equipment reliabity and monitoring fluid condition when equipment is needed to perform.
For further information or to establish a proactive testing program for your oil, coolant, or fuel in critical operating equipment feel free to contact ALS Tribology laboratory or any of our regional testing labs.
David Doyle, CLS, OMA I, OMA II
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