Whether relating to an aircraft, a computer network installation, or a diesel generator, a service level agreement is a document in which full details of the responsibilities agreed upon by a service provider are recorded for the perusal and acceptance of the client. Once it has been approved and signed by both stakeholders, like any other contract, it imposes certain legal obligations upon each of them. While there may be a standard format for this type of contract, its actual content tends to be quite flexible and will be based primarily on the client’s specific needs and the provider’s ability to cater for them.
Although it probably makes good sense to draw up the contract at the time of purchase, this is not essential. In practice, most companies are likely to be willing to enter into a generator service level agreement at any stage in the lifespan of a machine that is seen to be in a reasonably good condition, particularly if they were responsible for supplying it. In the short-term, however, the manufacturer’s warranty should cover the owner against any expenses that might arise in the event that he or she should encounter any teething problems with the new purchase.
In practice, the terms of the contract can be fairly minimal, such as an undertaking by the provider to perform six monthly inspections and to report on any findings that would seem to justify further attention. Alternatively, the terms of a generator service level agreement could be far more comprehensive and might be tailored to meet certain needs that could be unique to a particular client. Most commonly, though, the undertaking by the service provider will be to carry out the schedule of preventative maintenance as prescribed by the relevant manufacturer. This will involve inspections carried out at recommended intervals, which will include the routine replacement of consumable items, such as lubricants and fuel, oil and air filters and, quite possibly, a thorough cleaning.
As stated earlier, however, a generator service level agreement can also place certain obligations on the client. For example, he or she may be required to ensure that the machine in question is made available for inspection when required, in order not to unduly delay the visiting engineer. It may also be required for the client company to maintain an adequate stock of basic spare parts on its own premises, especially in the case of less common models. Where the service provider has undertaken to provide these items, it will then need to be made clear whether their cost is included as part of the contract price or if they will be charged for separately.
Despite all the precautions, breakdowns may still occur from time to time and your generator service level agreement could possibly include an emergency hotline with which to obtain remote assistance. In fact, response times form an important part of the contract and are generally based upon the perceived level of importance. These will vary between service providers and will obviously be influenced by the travelling distances involved.
As a guideline, where attention is considered to be a high priority, the terms might agree to a guaranteed response time of two to four hours during normal working hours. In the case of a medium priority call, this could be extended to between 24 and 48 hours, while up to five days may be the agreed time in low priority situations. Clearly, it is important to check your generator service level agreement carefully to be quite sure that the proposed response times are in line with your business requirements.
Good service providers are usually busy service providers and that requires setting realistic response times, so it is often a wise precaution to purchase a standby machine that could provide cover during an emergency to supplement your generator service level agreement.
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