Earthquakes and hurricanes pose significant threats to the operations of businesses all around the world. To ensure minimal interruption to business operations and mission critical functions during an earthquake or hurricane, generator sets should be constructed to adequately resist seismic and wind load forces.
The seismic and wind resistance capabilities of a generator set can either be qualified or certified, but how do you know which is better? Here are some basic guidelines:
Qualification may ensure that a product correctly and completely meets certain specifications, standards and requirements. It may also involve passing or successfully satisfying a specific set of tests or analyses which deem the generator set qualified to perform a special function or meet a certain requirement.
In short, qualification involves a one-time performance evaluation by test or analysis. In reality, the qualification process is just the first step toward certification, which requires a third-party review of compliance to industry standards. Certification also requires a manufacturer to have a quality control program in place to ensure that all manufactured products will meet the original qualification performance standard.
Third-party product certification by an accredited listing agency involves a review of the product qualification records and an inspection of the manufacturer's quality assurance procedures. These steps provide a higher level of confidence that the qualified product will consistently meet seismic and/or wind load requirements.
Today's International Building Codes (IBC) require seismic certification for all critical electrical equipment, including generator sets, automatic transfer switches, transformers, motor control centers, and other on-site power gear. This equipment must endure expected acceleration levels set by the U.S. Geological Survey where the equipment is installed, whether it's below ground, ground level, or on a roof top. Failure to meet these requirements could result in red-tagging, fines, penalties, a loss of certificate of occupancy and even litigation.
When it comes down to the critical functions of your business, will you specify generator sets and components that are qualified or certified to meet seismic and wind load requirements? Have you experienced a red-tagging or other set-back with your non-certified equipment?
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