In an emergency, no one wants to hear the sound of a generator system choking just as it begins to run. Unfortunately, this often happens. Maintaining generators require more than basic engine maintenance. Fuel quality management must be at the forefront of a generator maintenance program.
One of the burgeoning methodologies is a risk management approach. This is a holistic approach to managing fuel. What are the main risks with fuel? There are four:
- Operational Risk – not managing fuel quality carries the risk of operational downtime and losses. When the power goes off due to bad fuel, the most obvious risk is operational.
- Reputational Risk – sustained power loss can become a reputational problem with any organization and the individuals responsible for maintaining power. If fuel quality is not at the forefront of the maintenance management then the loss of reputation is likely.
- Health and Safety Risk – no doubt that the loss of power posses a health and safety risk to those effected. This is especially true in the emergency management and healthcare sectors.
- Value Risk – there is finally a financial risk due to ignoring fuel quality.
So what does a risk management approach to fuel quality management look like? There are several steps that must be taken starting with sampling and testing.
- Define the risk – the first step requires regular fuel sampling and testing. Only this will determine the risk. Sampling and testing identifies the level of contamination in the fuel. Identifying the initial risk and the ongoing trend of fuel quality is the first step in determining the program needed to holistically manage fuel.
- Develop a path to fuel quality – this involves using best practices including regular sampling, fuel testing, system inspections and water management.
- Determine how big your problems are – from visual samples and microbial testing, the breadth of the problem can be determined. Is the microbial infection minimal; is it moderated; or is it severe? Being able to measure the level of severity will determine to course of action to be taken.
- Identify who and what is at risk – if microbial contamination levels are severe then the chances of engine failure are very high. Maintenance costs rise dramatically and fuel efficiencies drop considerably. Rising costs are not the only risks. The more contaminated fuel becomes, the higher the liabilities.
Risk reduction management begins with sampling and testing first. Sample and test data helps build a model that enables accurate need assessment and proper maintenance responses. With this data you will know when, where and how to deal with fuel quality issues while reducing costs and liabilities.