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Ramp it up: Powering the operation in winter storms

Steve Keitges for Progressive Cattleman Published on 22 November 2017
Calves in the snow

It’s a simple choice: Plan or react?

Every day, we encounter uncertainties. It’s how we plan for these moments that will affect our businesses, investments and pocketbooks.

A customer service agreement is a hassle-free way of pre-scheduling your preventative maintenance while saving you money in the long run.

As a token of appreciation, some companies offer reduced rates on labor and fixed parts’ prices and may qualify you for promotional specials not offered to the general public.

These agreements give you the ability to choose the services best for your budget and application. Three of most common generator maintenance services are: semi-annual service (inspections and oil sample), the annual service (new oil and filter changes) and load bank testing.

Other services can include coolant system service, applied technical service inspections, fuel testing and polishing, thermal image testing, battery testing and more.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most important services you don’t want to neglect:

  • A semi-annual inspection ensures the generator is being monitored every six months by a qualified technician to help identify potential problems and to monitor the current state of the generator set.

    From air filters to block heater hoses, the inspection will note the condition of the inspected items. If an inspected item fails or is near failure, measures will be taken to propose a solution.

  • Annual services include fresh oil, filters and inspection. We all know the importance of an oil change in our daily drivers. The same goes for our generators. Regularly exercising the generator is encouraged to keep the internals of the engine moving and active.

    Fresh oil and filters will help ensure your generator is ready to go when called upon. Exercising an engine is simply verifying the engine portion of the generator set will indeed start, while load banking ensures it can function at its full potential.

  • With load bank testing, you’re actually transferring load to the generator simulating a power outage. This is done without taking your system offline. A qualified technician will then make a report that can be monitored and used to establish a baseline based off of the generator’s output.

    This will aid in identifying deficiencies or changes in the generator’s output. Load bank testing is also beneficial in preventing wet stacking. This is a condition in diesel engines when unburnt fuel passes through the exhaust system, which can cause carbon buildup and reduce performance of the engine or worse.

  • The coolant system service is also very important. Your generator is only as strong as it is able to stay cool. It has been said 50 percent of generator failures are due to neglect of the coolant system. Think of this: A blown radiator cap can take your generator offline.

    Most manufacturers recommend coolant system service be performed every three years. This service includes fresh coolant, upper and lower radiator hoses, hose clamps, thermostats, belts and replacement of the radiator cap.

Routine generator maintenance in the long run will save you money, protect your investment and allow you to sleep more comfortably at night knowing that in the event of a power outage, you have done your due diligence to be prepared.

So what happens if you decide to neglect your generator set and are forced into a reactive situation? What would that look like? It’s not pretty.… A downed machine will cost you more money. Aside from business costs that could be affected, consider the cost of repairs or replacement of the system itself.

Who will you call for help? Will the repairs need to be made after hours or on a weekend? Will weather conditions permit access to the generator set? What if parts are not readily available? Will backup rentals be readily available in a worst-case scenario? There’s no way to know until it is time to react.

Additional advantages to having a customer service agreement include support, a direct line and opportunities to build relationships with companies that will help your business either by providing service or equipment.

We all know how beneficial a good support system can be. Knowing there is a reliable team of people willing to go to great lengths to support and help you in good times and in times of need is irreplaceable. When you choose to work with a good company, you’ll find support beyond just a fix.

You will have a direct line to people you trust who will help you with parts, equipment and a larger menu of services.

Generator service is a great starting point to build relationships and finding a support team. We all want to work with people we like, trust and who understand our business needs. Building these relationships and having a plan for your generators will bring you peace of mind when the pressure is on.

You’ll know exactly who to call and know they will do their best to help you and your business through its time of need. Maybe it’s an emergency situation or maybe it’s a simple question on an inspection report. Having a direct line and the ability to call someone you know and trust is an invaluable resource that can save you time, money and unnecessary headache.

In the end we have two questions to ask: Is it better to plan, be ready and invest in a program that promotes control and readiness or do we want to simply react?  end mark

PHOTO: Cold winters are no stranger to Blair Brothers Ranch in South Dakota. Photo by David Cooper.

Steve Keitges
  • Steve Keitges

  • Western States Equipment Co.
  • Email Steve Keitges