Winterize your Emergency Generator Sets with Maintenance Plans

It’s that time of year again when the leaves start changing colors, school is back in session, and the weather begins getting colder. What does that mean for your facility? It’s also time to test out your emergency generators and ensure they are ready for the winter season.

As winter is a critical time, it’s important that generators are checked prior to the rough weather conditions. This is precisely why we offer planned maintenance agreements for all of our generators that we service—it guarantees that the generator sets will be checked on either a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis, and the right services are performed. While there is a long list of maintenance services we perform, here are a few of the most important ones:

  • Check air cleaners.
  • Check/service all fluid levels, including oil and water.
  • Check and adjust battery charger systems.
  • Check and correct minor fuel, water, and oil leaks.
  • Check and tighten hoses and lines.
  • Check exhaust system.
  • Check pressures, gauges, and instruments.
  • Check antifreeze conditions and protection levels.
  • Service and test starting batteries and cables.
  • Adjust output voltages and frequencies.
  • Service, clean, and lubricate all unit components and assemblies, where necessary for proper operation.
  • Pressure test the coolant system.

Planned maintenance servicesThe biggest step in the entirety of the planned maintenance agreements? We provide test runs and complete full operation tests under actual or simulated load conditions. The planned maintenance agreements are in place to ensure a generator set is working as effectively and efficiently as possible; the best way to do so is to run the generator under a load. This way, all aspects of the generators are inspected. With the fall and winter a critical time, when under an agreement we plan a spot on the calendar to follow up on all of our customers’ generator sets. We certainly don’t want you to be snowed in and generator-less!

 

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Bank on Efficient Generators with Load Bank Testing

Your emergency generator sets are in place and you have a maintenance program you are following promptly. What’s the next step in ensuring your power generators work as efficiently and smoothly as possible? Perform load bank testing.

Load bank testing is, essentially, the testing of a generator by placing a “dummy load” on it. Primarily, load banks are used to prevent the critical problem of wet-stacking in diesel generator sets. Wet-stacking occurs when a diesel engine operates without loads at a harmful temperature, causing unburned – “wet”—fuel to accumulate in the exhaust system. As a generator needs the proper temperature and amount of fuel and air to operate efficiently, it is necessary for loads to be placed on it in order to alleviate any harmful conditions. This is where load bank testing steps in—it allows you to test your generators and check that every aspect is performing as it should.Load bank

When it comes to new generator sets, it is required that load banking is done, ensuring the generator can handle 100% of its nameplate capacity. According to the JCHAO, annual load bank testing of emergency generators used in hospitals and health care facilities are also required.

As emergency power generator experts, we routinely perform and provide load bank testing. As you can use either permanent load banks, which remain with the generator, or portable ones to be taken to the site, load banks are easy and accessible. We work with resistive load banks that can handle testing of up to 2,000kW plus. While every load bank that we work with offers a variety of different features, we know it’s important that one is used with every diesel generator set that cannot be tested with the proper amount of load—just another way to prevent a power emergency.

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Monitor Power Emergencies before they Happen

When you have an emergency generator or generator set, you want to make sure it is going to turn on and work at exactly the moment it is needed. Especially in critical applications where power generation is of utmost importance, like hospitals, data centers, and on public transportation, maintenance and monitoring is key. However, manually monitoring generator sets can be time consuming in addition to the fact that you may miss when an alert on the generator goes off until it is too late. New technological advances in the field of generator monitoring, then, are welcomed.

Remote monitoring of generator sets is a new technology in the field and allows you, or companies like us, to monitor a generator set from a remote location. As we use a manufacturer called OmniMetrix, we are able to monitor all of our generators, no matter where they are located. How does this benefit us over manual monitoring? First, remote monitoring can eliminate 95% of all fail-to-start situations, as the systems monitor alerts you of any problems or issues with the generator set as soon as they happen. Specifically, you can choose 24/7 alert monitoring that send signals to your own phone via text or computer, notifying you of any alarm conditions. These issues can range from battery voltage, fuel status and coolant status to unhandled system alarms and missed exercises. You can even turn the generator on and off and perform exercises to ensure the set is operating properly. The alarms are programmable and adjustable and once they are activated, notifications are sent so that we can fix the problem right away.

What’s great about remote monitoring is that we now have the capability to watch over generators anywhere, whether close by or abroad. Remote monitoring ensures that all emergencies are handled promptly and some even before they happen.

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Prevent a Power Emergency with Maintenance

A huge storm or hurricane is about to hit your local area, and you’re being told to expect a number of power outages and losses, possibly for a couple of days. Since you need to keep your business running throughout the storm, it’s necessary for you to maintain power the entire time. Luckily, you think to yourself, you purchased that generator a while back for moments just like this. The storm hits and, as proposed, your power goes out. Your emergency generator should start automatically and…nothing. What happened?

Generator maintenanceDon’t want to encounter a situation like this? This is a perfect epitome of why it’s necessary to properly maintain your generator on a weekly, monthly, and an annual basis. Preventative and routine maintenance of your generator sets will ensure that your backup generators are available when you need them. As backup generator experts, we offer to provide preventative maintenance agreements to all of our clients for this very reason. Typically, we recommend the following: weekly exercise without a load to simply run the engine and monthly exercise to run under a load and test the automatic transfer switch. Each time simultaneously determines that the oil and antifreeze levels, belts, and hoses are working properly. We offer to all of our customers custom-tailored Planned Maintenance Agreements, which include semi-annual checks and annual services of your emergency power system in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommendations.

These planned maintenance agreements we perform for our clients are set to ensure the Generator maintenancegenerators are in good operating condition and are monitored on a regular basis. Some of the specific maintenance services that should be performed include the checking of the batteries and cables, checking and adjustment of the battery charger, generator output voltages and frequencies, inspection of the main generator and controller operations, exhaust systems, unit controller, engine ignition, and the lubrication of all parts. We also typically recommend that complete system operation tests, with and without load, are performed on a normal basis. These tests guarantee that any possible issues are detected before the generator is needed to work and you won’t be left without power!

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Should your Emergency Power be Bought or Rented?

Emergency power—you know when it comes to an unexpected crisis or natural disaster, as we saw with Hurricane Sandy, having an emergency power resource is certainly useful and beneficial. However, with high costs for huge generators and an unknown emergency risk factor, sometimes the investment in emergency power generators may not be a priority. That’s where we step in—as emergency power specialists, we can help determine whether or not your business and situation is suitable for backup generators. More importantly, we can help answer the age-old question—should you rent power or buy power?Purchased generator

When determining whether you should rent or buy a backup generator, you first need to determine whether your application is temporary or permanent. Not only that, but you also need to look at the type of application the generator will be used in. Are you looking for an emergency power as a standby source? For hospitals, health care, education, and manufacturing areas, permanent backup generators are recommended. If you’re only looking for power on a temporary basis, such as festivals, concerts, or a scheduled plant shutdown, then rented equipment may be a better option. What if, while based in America, you are contracted to do work for a European firm, which operates on different voltages? Instead of placing a long-term investment from your utility company, a better option may be to rent a temporary generator.

What are the advantages of renting backup power generators? First, since maintenance would be included in the contract, you don’t need to worry about maintaining the equipment. Not only is there less responsibility required, but you also don’t need to worry about obtaining the correct building or town permits necessary for installing permanent generators. On the flip side, the benefits of buying a generator set are also widespread. Since you then have full ownership of the equipment, it is often a much more cost-effective option for long-term needs—and you’ll never have to worry about losing power!

Rental generatorIf you’re in between the tough decision of either renting or purchasing backup power generators, then we hope we better highlighted the important points you should consider.

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Is Your Generator Set Meeting EPA Tier 4 Emissions Standards?

More than 15 years ago – in 1996, to be exact – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to enforce limits on emissions of diesel exhaust from non-road diesel engines and stationary diesel-engine generator sets. These new standards limit the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM), and non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) emitted by diesel engines. By 2015, these emissions will have been reduced by 99% since the 1990s – an impressive accomplishment!Diesel generator

The EPA diesel emissions standards have followed a “tiered” progression to greater reductions, starting with the initial Tier 1 standards in the late 1990s. The standards became more stringent in 2004, when the EPA’s Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Tier 4 standards were passed. According to this article, the phase-in schedule for Tier 4 standards began in 2008 and continues until 2015, starting with “Tier 4 Interim” standards and ending with “Tier 4 Final” standards. As of today, this leaves less than two years for industries to bring generator sets into Tier 4 Final compliance.

Additionally, in 2013, the EPA has added a “Not to Exceed,” or NTE test standard for Tier 4 diesel-regulated engines. Regardless of how an engine is operated, according to the NTE standard, an engine should not exceed maximum emissions.

What generator set applications are required to comply with Tier 4 standards?

  • Demand-response applications.
  • Prime power applications.
  • Applications involving mobile rental power units.

The Tier 4 standards are only required for generators in prime power applications (ones that run instead of a utility), and for generators that are in demand-response programs.

Generator sets can be brought into compliance to meet Tier 4 standards through in-engine improvements and with exhaust after-treatments add-ons. In-engine improvements may include:

  • More precise injection timing.
  • Advanced engine controls.
  • High-pressure common-rail fuel injection.
  • Advanced turbocharging.

Exhaust system add-ons include:

  • Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR).
  • Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF).
  • Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR).

Whether you decide to purchase a new generator or update your existing one to meet these new standards, it’s important for all those in the power generation and emissions industries to understand and meet these new tiers.

 

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In Emergency Situations Today, It’s Reliability – Not Renewability – That’s Most Important

The decisions we make in life are based on our priorities, and priorities can – and do – change all the time. What’s most important to us one day can easily drop to the bottom of our priority list the next day.

This same thought process applies to our choices about energy consumption: Do we use renewable energy (such as wind or solar energy) sources or do we stick with the traditional non-renewable sources? Each has its advantages: Renewable energy protects the environment and helps promote sustainability. Traditional non-renewable energy boasts time-proven reliability and is easily accessible to us today, as it has been for many years.

One emergency situation can change everything that drives our energy-related decisions: Something like a power outage or emergency can shift our priorities and affect our choices. Anyone who’s been involved in a power emergency situation, like the hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Sandy last fall or the recent blizzard storms this winter, will tell you that “reliability” trumps “renewability” as a priority during a power outage. Getting things running again, keeping ourselves warm, and other comfort-related and sometimes life-threatening issues all easily rank before renewability on our “priority lists.”

High costs and inaccessibility can push us away from renewable energy options, especially during emergencies. MotherEarthNews.com reports, “Continued investment is needed to make these [renewable] technologies truly economically viable for mainstream application.”

Facing emergencies today, and in the emergency power market in general, we don’t have the time to wait for this to happen. We need to use the reliable resources we have available to us right now. At Emergency Systems Inc., we offer our customers the reliability they need in their backup power systems. Whether or not renewable energy will greatly impact the future of emergency power generation remains to be seen. For now, then, consider our reliable and proven emergency power systems.

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“Linking our Strengths” with MTU

How have we been spending the first few weeks of the new year? While enjoying our strongest first quarter and keeping busy with new business, we recently attended the MTU Sales and Service Conference. The conference, held January 29th and 30th at the Detroit Marriot Center, is an annual event hosted by MTU Onsite Energy—of whom we are an authorized distributor—in order to get all of their distributors together to talk about new offerings and products.

At the conference, whose theme was “Linking our Strengths,” MTU provided a 2012 review and business update, a sales update, and a service update. Additionally, we took part in a team building event and then later celebrated at a dinner and awards ceremony, where MTU honors distinguished distributors –and where we received the 2010 Distributor Excellence Award!

What did we take away from the conference? A big discussion was centered on how all of MTU’s distributors can better work together as a team and capture more market share. We communicated how we can all forecast business more efficiently so that manufacturing can be adjusted accordingly as well.

Overall, this year’s conference was a positive and upbeat experience, and we learned a great deal for moving forward as one of MTU’s distributors.

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Our Look Ahead to 2013

To all of our customers and colleagues, we want to take the time to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year! For all of us here at Emergency Systems, we are looking forward to new projects and opportunities in this new year. 2012 had been a successful year for us, and we hope to extend that into 2013. Already, some projects from the last year had been pushed to a 2013 start, so we have been off and running in this new year! Industry-wide, we foresee – and hope—that the new year will be a stronger year all around.

Our positive thoughts for 2013 have enabled us to set up some company goals for this new year. As we look forward to a strong year and positive growth, here are some goals we are hoping to accomplish:

  • Increase rental fleet: Since our rental department has proved to be a source of success for us recently, we hope to increase the pieces of equipment we have in order to meet the demand of our customers.
  • Add resistive load bank capacity: In the past, we have had the ability to offer load banks up to 2,000 kW. We plan to increase our load bank capabilities.
  • Bolster service department personnel: Recently, we have seen a growth in our service department. It had been a steady increase throughout the past year, and then after Hurricane Sandy, the volume rose dramatically. In order to ensure we can fulfill all of these service projects, we hope to upgrade our staff and capabilities.

Overall, one of our biggest hopes is to see the economy pick up, which would then allow for strong years for our business, as well as our clients’ businesses. As 2013 gets underway, here’s to ringing in all of our goals and resolutions! Make sure to check back in with us and see what opportunities we are working on!

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Our Power is your Backup Power

Hurricane Sandy. By now, we have all heard news reports and seen pictures of the devastation and aftermath caused by the hurricane that hit the Northeast in late October. For us here at Emergency Systems, we lived through the hurricane—in more ways than one.

Our entire business is based on the premises of emergency power generation, something that came in handy to many of our customers in the days and weeks following the hurricane. We have had calls coming in constantly with those looking for generators or generator maintenance. The first priority was critical care facilities, followed by a magnitude of non-critical operations. At first, the main requests were for rental generators and emergency service, until buildings and communities retained power. As power has come back in affected towns, we are now seeing more requests for generator sales or generator services—either our customers want larger generators in order to run additional loads, or they need repairs or preventative maintenance on their current generators that were used throughout the storm.

As we were keeping up with the needs of our customers in the time following the hurricane, we were also dealing with our own emergency power needs—our facilities lost power and we had to run off our own generator power for five days as well! Although this was certainly a situation we hadn’t been prepared for, we had to find ways to bring emergency power to our customers while powering ourselves.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we have come to understand that although we have never seen a storm of this magnitude while in business, there are several ways in which we can all be more prepared in the future. Does your business have a back-up generator? We recommend you begin investing in one—why suffer huge financial losses if you were to ever lose power? Already have an emergency system? It is imperative to maintain the system on a regular basis, ensuring that everything is backed up and the system is sized appropriately. Why take the risk of losing not only business, but heat, quality drinking water, and other safety elements in the center of a storm?

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