Five tips for genset maintenance in the cold

Louise Smyth

With reports predicting that this winter is set to be the coldest in 60 years, Jason Harryman from Finning UK and Ireland outlines his top five winter prep tips to ensure gensets continue to operate efficiently throughout the season.

Safety first

To begin with, it is essential to make sure that any potential hazards – both outside and inside – a genset are identified and remedied. So, outside checks include making sure exhaust stacks are structurally sound and there are no defects such as loose rain caps or brackets, ensuring remote coolers are free from debris and have their covers intact, confirming that there are no reported or observed leaks, and assessing whether fuel tank gauges are functioning correctly.

Then, inside checks include making sure the battery charger is on and voltage is correct, ensuring radiators and air inlets are clean and free from debris or dust, confirming that internal fuel tanks are full and that gauges are working properly, and assessing whether fans and belts are aligned and tensioned.

Maintenance checks such as these should be in place as a matter of course, but as winter approaches and the temperature drops and days get shorter, then the need to ensure every safety measure has been taken during these conditions is even more important.

Fixing fuel

Over time, fuel can potentially become contaminated by dirt ingress or rust, which can cause a range of problems such as filter blockages or the premature wear of fuel injectors or pumps. While treatments such as fuel polishing and a water soaker can help deal with fuel contamination, taking a preventative approach is a better strategy to adopt. Ensure adequate fuel is purchased from a reliable source and maintain fuel systems and tanks to a high standard, working to OEM guidelines. Fuel fill points should be clean and serviceable, locks fitted and keys accessible for the attending staff. Finally, introduce a periodic fuel-sampling regime to not only identify the condition of the fuel but its suitability too. This will lead to reduced maintenance costs and improved operational efficiencies.

Keep your genset cool

While the importance of regular oil and filter changes is widely acknowledged, it is less known that approximately 50 per cent of engine downtime is typically due to problems associated with cooling systems. Check hoses and fittings for cracks and abrasions, vibration damage or cavitation tears due to motion, as these issues can lead to a major failure of the engine when equipment is relied on to work remotely.

These problems can become particularly exacerbated during winter. As coolants age, they can lose their protective properties. If the glycol mix is wrong, then the fluid could freeze at very low temperatures. This is, therefore, one fluid to be really mindful of during the winter period.

Look for genuine maintenance opportunities

It may seem obvious, but do not underestimate the value of regular and thorough visual inspections, especially when the temperature drops. In particular, look at the condition of air filters, batteries, connections and covers. Should these need replacing, then it is always best to opt for genuine spares. Failure to use genuine parts can be detrimental to a system’s overall performance, as slight differences in tolerance and fit can contribute to inefficiencies in areas such as fuel and oil consumption, and even lead to premature wear.

While non-genuine parts may save in the short-term, there is a good chance they could cost a site far more in the long run. A genset is a sizeable investment, so it should go without saying that its overall performance should not be compromised for a quick upfront cost-saving.

Have you checked your genset paperwork?

Finally, now is the time to ensure that a genset’s service-level agreement (SLA) is fit for purpose. Many believe that an SLA will automatically cover emergency callouts, when this may not be the case. Should maintenance problems arise with a genset during this period, it is always recommended that operators check the terms of their SLA and ensure it meets their needs. It is important to work with a trusted partner that has a strong track record of delivering reliable and high-performing gensets, taking into account each site’s individual requirements.

 

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