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08/05/2015 | Standby Generator Selection and Operation for Hospitals

Standby GeneratorAs most hospital administrators recognize, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and other regulatory groups impose very strict requirements upon hospitals regarding operation of an emergency backup generator. Any facility that must meet life-safety requirements, and especially those that must power life-support systems, face the most stringent requirements possible.

What administrators and other hospital leaders might not realize is that generator selection plays a direct role into how cumbersome those requirements will be. While no one can replace a human, on-site maintenance technician or a well-designed maintenance management platform, selecting a generator with specific features will enable both the technician and the maintenance management solution to do their jobs more efficiently.

NFPA 101(00), Sec. 7.9.2.3 stipulates that emergency generators must be installed, tested and maintained in accordance with NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems. Buildings that meet the criteria listed under Chapter 18 of NFPA 101(00) and are equipped with (or in which patients require) life-support systems, such as hospitals and nursing homes with residents on ventilators, must also meet certain maintenance and testing requirements.

Provisions relating to maintenance and testing of emergency generators can be found in NFPA 99(99), Sec. 3-4.4. This section starts out by referencing NFPA 110, but also deals with other issues. Let’s take a quick look at some of them, and how generator selection can positively affect these requirements.

Testing Intervals

The importance of testing at manufacturer-specified intervals (or even more often) is underscored in codes such as those mentioned above, and federal (as well as many state) regulations require weekly inspections of some generator components. However, it is up to the generator operator to meet these requirements.

Hospitals that purchase modern generators that can communicate with maintenance tracking systems such as MasterTrac and also include telematics will find it easier to keep their maintenance on schedule. Designated stakeholders can receive text or email reminders that maintenance is upcoming, due or overdue.

Furthermore, the most powerful and helpful maintenance management systems track what maintenance was performed and help develop recommendations for predictive maintenance based upon engine history. For these systems to work most efficiently, they must receive direct communications from the engine.

Test Conditions

The NFIP specifies the conditions under which maintenance must be performed, as well. Although generator selection doesn’t impact test conditions, specifically, selecting the right generators makes it easier for maintenance technicians to do their jobs. They can also help reduce engine damage that reduces effective lives and makes maintenance operations more burdensome.

For example, enclosed generators help exclude dust, debris and any flying objects from impacting the generator, and they are popular with hospitals for this reason (in addition to their quieter operation). Yet, some enclosed models are more difficult to service. Companies that select enclosed generators should offer easy-access panels to reach the engine for maintenance operations. This will expedite maintenance, make their technicians less frustrated and prone to overlook something, and reduce generator downtime.

Maintenance of Batteries

As with overall generator maintenance, battery maintenance is easier if the technician can reach it early. Some enclosed generators have batteries specifically located for easy reach.

Fuel Inspections

One of the elements that technicians must inspect weekly is fuel (check main and day tank fuel supply levels, day tank float switch, piping, hoses and connectors and operating fuel pressure, as well as for any obstructions to tank vents and overflow piping). Better generator manufacturers such as HIPOWER SYSTEMS can equip generators with sub-based fuel tanks. If these are acceptable based on siting requirements for standby generators, they make checking these levels and other items faster and easier.

These are just a few of the criteria where generator selection has a direct impact on the efficiency of maintenance operations. To learn more about advanced generator features and how they can help hospitals enjoy more reliability and ROI from their generators, or to learn more about HIPOWER SYSTEMS’ enclosed generators suitable for hospitals, we invite you to call 913-495-5557 to speak with an expert technician. You may also find the standby power pages on our site helpful. While you are there, sign up for myHIPOWER to gain access to extended site benefits and more.

 

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