For manufacturing facilities, calculating profitability is a simple equation. If the assembly lines are moving, products are going out and revenue is coming in. If operations are stalled, shipments are missed, employees are being paid to stand around and profits plummet.
The financial impact? One study estimates that manufacturing facilities lose an average of $1.6 million per hour without power. Keeping the power on is paramount with the increasing use of sensitive computer equipment that control manufacturing processes.
Most Important Part of the Backup Power Equation
All facility managers are aware of the risks due to power quality issues and many have installed on-site diesel generators for backup power as a precautionary measure.
What they may not realize is that the most important component of critical power protection is still missing. Generators can take up to 15 seconds to start up and bring equipment back online, which is why it’s imperative that an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system also be installed.
UPS systems not only bridge the gap between utility feed failure and generator startup, they also condition incoming power, eliminating the risk that a momentary glitch causes an unexpected stoppage of production.
When considering a UPS, facility managers must determine which product on the market is best suited for their application. Every manufacturing plant is unique, and therefore, so are its needs.
Reliability is key. A UPS should not introduce risk of failure to your facility, so be sure to evaluate overall system reliability. Examining the system’s performance, specifically its ability to handle overloads and step loads, is also critical.
Factory environments often experience wide temperature extremes and high airborne particulate densities that require equipment that can withstand these conditions. For optimal performance, batteries must be kept at 77°F, but most plants operate at much higher temperatures due to heat emitted from machinery on the assembly line. That leaves operators with two options. The first option is to house batteries in special climate controlled rooms, but those cooling costs must be built into the budget. The second option is to select a battery-free UPS that uses flywheel energy storage. These products can operate at much higher ambient temperatures, and can therefore be installed in unconditioned space, such as the shop floor.
These are just a few of the factors that should be considered before choosing a UPS system. Time spent during the vetting process can reduce the risk of an electrical interruption later, which can save time (and revenue) in the long run by keeping the facility up and running during a power outage.