GENERATOR SERVICING AS A PROFITABLE VENTURE
Generator technicians at work
Generators, whether diesel or petrol powered, are commonly used either as a prime source of power or as a backup. One key sustainable tip is that they must be regularly maintained to ensure they provide quality power throughout their service life.
This, according to engineers in the venture, has created room for interested persons to make sustainable income from the servicing of generators, especially in most African nations, where steady power supply seems a luxury.
Technicians and electrical engineers explain that the long use of generators, especially in countries with poor electricity, has provided the necessary knowledge to predict when certain components in the machines will fail or be in need of service.
They note that sound knowledge of requisite skills in generator servicing will guarantee greater income for the technicians, and that proficient practitioners always get jobs.
According to them, smart engineers often fix rates at which they service generators, depending on the grade of the machine, adding that only engineers who are not grounded in the venture scout for generators to fix regularly.
The technicians say the venture now provides greater opportunities for operators, as larger companies who own many generators, or those who rely on generators extensively for prime power, often require an in-house engineer to service and maintain their generators.
'Smaller firms or users of generators as backup power whenever there is an outage may establish maintenance contracts with generator servicing companies or individual engineers to maintain their generators,' the Managing Director, Luis Group of Engineers in Ojo, Lagos, Mr. Adaghe Luis, says.
'On most occasions, good engineers earn satisfactory income from these contracts after payments are made. The nature of the company involved in the signing of this contract, however, determines the income level.'
Luis says the main responsibilities of the maintenance engineer will be to inspect systems, study the technical data provided by the manufacturers, maintain records and take precautionary safety measures, as suggested by the producers of the generators.
He stresses that the life-cycle of generators are well established and documented, making routine maintenance of such engines fairly straightforward.
Luis notes that best generator maintenance practice could be achieved by strictly following the maintenance schedule provided by the producer of the generator. He adds that by so doing, the technician delivers an efficient job with less stress and better pay.
He says the technician also becomes popular in his trade as one who meets the desires of clients, stressing that he stands the chance of expanding his clientele on the grounds that satisfied customers often advertise the services of good technician to neighbours.
He says, 'Adhering to manufacturers' schedule will ensure maximum service time for the generator and proper operation when it is called upon to provide power. Large generator manufacturers have established maintenance plans and will not only service their own generators, but many of the other industries' major brand names as well.'
Explaining why some technicians in the venture do not thrive, Luis says a lack of adequate training or failure to put in the minimum number of years required for proper understanding of how to fix a generator usually accounts for this.
He says generators are complex machines requiring patience and dedication on the part of the trainee in order to understand the intricacies on how to detect a faulty engine working.
He notes that a minimum of two years is necessary for detailed comprehension of the basics.
According to this engineer, some of the steps taken to ensure smooth generator operation while carrying out scheduled maintenance include timely removal of worn out parts or upgrading of the components; checking fluid levels; battery inspection and cleaning of connections; verifying control panel readings and indicators; load bank testing and changing fuel and air filters.
'Small investments made in replacing components and maintaining generators on a regular basis can save expensive and unnecessary upgrades or even replacement of the entire set in the future,' Luis says.
Speaking on why some engineers in the venture fail to impress their clients, a popular technicians at the Mile 12 market, Mr. Bright Biodun, says trainees are fond of absconding after learning a few techniques.
He explains that after making meagre income from little tasks, some trainees leave their bosses to start fixing generators, but end up messing the sets of users.
'The good thing is that after they have tried and failed, most times they direct the owners of the generators to some of us that are good on the job,' he said.
'This is a major problem in this line of work, many learners fail to complete the required training period and this will not help them.'
He notes that income made by engineers varies according to location of business, the network of the engineer and most importantly, the competence level of the generator maintenance personnel.
He said, 'One can make as much as N100,000 or more in a good month, but this differ in other high brow areas where technicians charge more than what we charge here.'
Biodun says starting up the business requires a shop in a strategic location and acquisition of appropriate spare parts and other necessary work tools.
He advises technicians to also learn preventive maintenance of generators, which ensures that customers get uninterrupted power supply.
According to him, by doing this, the engineer is assured of service on priority basis in case of dire emergency and discounted service rate for additional support or work.
'Once a technician enters into such contracts, the facility can relax on this aspect as the maintenance provider keeps track of when the next servicing is due and makes the visits at regular intervals. He further ensures that the products purchased through him receive consistent and reliable servicing.'