Maintenance for UPS and Generators
Effective testing, maintenance and monitoring help standby systems support facility operations in a crisis
Armed with a better understanding of the standby power system, managers and technicians next need to turn their attention to comprehensive preventive maintenance. Two key components of effective maintenance are a reliable, accessible spare parts inventory and — in cases where departments do not handle standby power system maintenance in-house — a contract from reputable vendors to perform periodical maintenance for each component.
For the UPS system, it is essential to have critical spare parts on hand. There are many components of a UPS system that require replacement throughout the life of the system’s operation. Whether it is a faulty breaker on a UPS input module, a malfunctioning control board, poorly performing batteries, having spare parts on site will limit the risk of downtime waiting for maintenance of the UPS system. For older UPS models, the longer the facility waits to replenish the UPS spare parts inventory, the more difficult it is to acquire these parts.
Contracting with a reputable maintenance vendor is an important investment for organizations. While many technicians can provide basic level maintenance of standby power system, there can be a limit on their expertise, whereas a contracting with a vendor can ensure comprehensive inspection and testing of the standby power system.
Managers opting to contract the preventive maintenance of the UPS system need to make the agreement covers the UPS modules, static bypass, UPS controls, HVAC units cooling the UPS and battery rooms, the battery banks, and the hydrogen sensor alarm system. When contracting maintenance for the generators, managers must make sure the agreement covers the engine and genset operations, the starter batteries, battery chargers, transfer switch units, and fuel oil sampling.
Managers also need to ensure the capabilities of existing technology when it comes to monitoring standby power systems. Not all facilities have 24/7 staffing to oversee these system, and no one can predict if or when an emergency situation might occur. This is where a monitoring system is valuable.
A monitoring system can be programmed to monitor crucial points in the standby power system in real time, can be remotely accessed, and can send critical alarms to staff member’s personal devices. The capability of alerting technicians regarding problems with standby power systems can be invaluable in effectively maintaining the uptime of a facility’s critical loads.
Sean Forde is a project engineer with Horizon Engineering Associates www.horizon-engineering.com — in its New York City office. He has more than 10 years of engineering experience — five years in commissioning and six years in facility management — with a focus on electrical systems.