Pioneering solutions for total power protection

In today's 24/7 on demand world, mission-critical business systems must be available 100% of the time. Downtime cannot be tolerated, which is where an uninterrupted power supply can assist. At Uninterruptible Power Supplies Ltd, we pride ourselves on delivering industry-leading power protection solutions combined with service excellence to ensure systems are 'Always ON'.

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  • If you’re reading this, there’s a strong chance that you already have an idea of what a UPS is. I’d imagine that phrases such as ‘disaster recovery’, and ‘emergency power’ are flashing through your mind right now.
     
    And you know what? You’re half right.
     
    UPS systems do provide emergency power in the event of an outage, either to enable the safe shutdown of your equipment, or as a stopgap until generator power kicks in.
    The trouble is, not only do UPS systems have another (more important) role, but if you’re only considering implementing a UPS on the basis of disaster recovery, it probably won’t happen until it’s too late. You see, as a species we’re terrible at assessing risk.
     
    But more on that later. For now, let’s consider what a UPS actually is.
     
    More Than Just Emergency Power
     
    A UPS, or uninterruptible power supply, is a device that sits between the mains power supply and your critical systems, performing two primary functions:
    1.    Providing emergency power in the event of an outage
    2.    Filtering disturbances from the mains power supply to provide safe, clean power
     
    Disturbances? What disturbances?
     
    Well as it happens, outages are not the only thing that can go wrong with your mains power supply. Here are some of others:
    ·        Spikes– Short, rapid fluctuations in voltage, ranging in intensity from a malfunction at the power company to a locally grounded lightning strike
    ·        Electrical noise– A ‘catch-all’ term for interference in the power supply lines, which might be caused by load switching, cable faults or radio frequency interference (RFI)
    ·        Surges– A sustained voltage increase, usually occurring after a large load is switched off
    ·        Sags– A drop-off in the mains supply, usually occurring when a large load is switched on
    ·        Brownouts– Identical to sags, but with much longer duration; these occur when the mains supply is unable to cope with the current load demand
    ·        Harmonics– Current and voltage distortions caused by loads such as computers, photocopiers and laser printers, which pull current from the mains supply in large peaks
     
     
     
    Power Outages: A Red Herring?
     
    OK, so there are plenty of things that can go wrong with the power supply, and in fairness many people are aware of that. The problem is that these minor fluctuations are often more damaging to your equipment than a complete outage would be. It’s easy to imagine the implications of an outage on your organisation – Loss of business, inability to trade, data loss or corruption, and so forth.
     
    But did you know that temporary, generally unnoticed fluctuations in your power supply often do far more damage to your equipment than outages? The phenomena described above can easily result in a reduced lifespan, or even failure of your critical systems.
     
    But what does all this have to do with risk assessment?
     
    If you read the Schneier article linked earlier – and I suggest that you do – you’ll notice that he highlights the tendency for people to worry about spectacular (but rare) risks whilst ignoring far more likely ‘mundane’ risks.
     
    In the UK the average time between mains power failures is 10,000 hours, or 445 days. By contrast, the average time between disturbances is as low as 50 hours in some areas. Combine these figures with the damage caused by disturbances, and we find that outages are not only by far the least frequent of power issues affecting your systems, they’re almost always the leastexpensive.
     
    Clearly, then, it doesn’t make sense to consider UPS systems purely on the basis of protection against outages.
     
    Protecting Your Business
     
    Hopefully this article has helped to explain what a UPS is, as well as putting the various risks averted by UPS systems into perspective. The headline that you’ll still be able to work (or at least safely shut down your equipment) in the event of an outage is a good one, but I can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of protecting your business against power disturbances.
     
    If you’re running a small business, UPS Ltd. offer a range of strong, single-phase UPS systemswhich are designed to provide small scale critical power protection for computers, small-medium sized server rooms, network hardware, telecommunication systems, CCTV and more. These systems will protect your equipment every day from the impact of harmful disturbances in the mains power supply, and – of course – in the event of an outage they’ll enable to you safely shut down or transfer to emergency power.
    Don’t get me wrong – defence against power outages is very valuable, and if you’re constructing a business case for implementing a UPS system I wouldn’t blame you for using it as a major argument.
     
    But when you come to the cost/benefit analysis, it’s vital to include the impact of power disturbances – Quite simply they’re much more common, more damaging, and more expensive.
  • Last summer, the eyes of athletics fans around the globe were firmly focused on Glasgow, as one of the world’s greatest sporting events took place in and around the historic Scottish city. With an estimated one billion viewers tuning in for the Games’ opening ceremony, the pressure was on for every aspect of the event to be perfect; from completing the venues on time and ensuring public transport could cope with the influx of visitors, through to the thousands of people and countless pieces of technology that were essential to the smooth running of the whole operation.
     
    As part of its planning for the event, the Scottish Government identified a vital need for an effective management centre which could be used during the games, and beyond, in the case of a major public incident, as well as acting as a secondary office for the Games organising committee.
     
    Following a strategic review of its assets, the Government selected the Atlantic Quay building from within its existing property portfolio to support its Primary location at the Europa Building as its preferred location. Situated on the banks of the River Clyde in the heart of Glasgow, Atlantic Quay was the ideal site to establish a secondary facility where teams could be brought together from other departments to work on special projects or deal with a variety of public incidents.
     
    It was apparent, however, that the site required a number of upgrades to provide additional resilience to its infrastructure.As part of the necessary works, all existing switchgear needed to be replaced and a new fuel supply installed to power the existing diesel generators. The planned upgrades also highlighted the need to replace the existing UPS with a modern, efficient and flexible system that would be able to manage the vital transition from mains power to the back-up diesel generators – guaranteeing total system continuity.
     
    Following its decision on where to house the crisis and management centre, the Scottish Government turned to its regular technical partner, Mitie, to manage all necessary upgrades to the building and oversee the entire project. Mitie, working in partnership with Balfour Beattie Engineering Services’ electrical contractors and RSP’s consultants, then began to look for UPS suppliers with the experience and product range capable of supporting such an important project.
     
    At the end of 2013, after a competitive tender process, Uninterruptible Power Supplies Limited, a Kohler company, was awarded the contract to provide all UPS hardware, training and on-going support for the site, as Steve Farmer, project manager for Mitie, explains:
     
    “The decision to award UPS Ltd the contract was based on a multitude of factors. First and foremost, members of our team had already worked with UPS Ltd on some fairly significant projects for the likes of the Royal Bank of Scotland. The success of those installations, combined with its reputation for highly efficient products and class leading service, gave us confidence that UPS Ltd.’s team could easily handle our requirements. Furthermore, when it came to it, UPS Ltd.’s quote offered the best deal on cost and speed of commissioning so with the timeframe we were working with, they were the obvious choice.”
     
    After looking at the applicable products, the PowerWAVE 9000DPA UPS was selected for its low total cost of ownership and the flexibility to expand the UPS’ capacity in line with the facility’s needs, as Farmer continues:
     
    “The project team had highlighted that the current load was less than 100 kVA but we knew it could grow in the future as the building’s requirements develop. The PowerWAVE 9000DPA’s modular technology meant we were able to size the UPS capacity for our current load, without any fears that we would outgrow the system in the future. This helped minimise capital expenditure costs whilst also avoiding unnecessary energy and cooling costs.”
     
    The selected PowerWAVE 9000DPA system offered the Government facility a 100 kVA load capacity, comprising three 50 kVA modules in an N+1 redundant configuration. N+1 refers to the inclusion of an additional module beyond the current load requirement, meaning if one of the UPS modules was to develop a fault, the function of the UPS would not be affected and the entire load would remain protected.
     
    Equally, should the load grow, the PowerWAVE 9000DPA’s true ‘hot-swap’ modularity enables capacity to be added in cost-effective incremental steps, with room for up to five 50 kVA modules within a single cabinet. Additionally, the ability to ‘hot-swap’ modules whilst the system remains online significantly reduces mean time to repair (MTTR) and simplifies system power upgrades.
     
    Following the decision on the selected product, Glasgow based RSP Consulting Engineers were called in to design the overall system, including the UPS integration. Working with Balfour Beatie Engineering Services, the collective team then travelled to Switzerland to UPS Ltd.’s design and manufacturing facility to perform comprehensive factory acceptance testing (FAT). The purpose of which was to determine if the system’s specification requirements had been met. This included load tests to simulate the system’s actual load being switched from the mains to the UPS system and examining the length of autonomy provided by the UPS.
     
    After all testing had been successfully completed offsite, the project moved to the commissioning and installation stage, which was handled by Balfour Beatie Engineering Services (BBES),in conjunction with Mitie and UPS Ltd. Ricky Marr, project manager for BBES, was responsible for overseeing the process, as he explains:
     
    “The commissioning process can be very challenging if you’re working with a weak team but thankfully that was not the case with UPS Ltd. The installation and commissioning went ahead without a hitch. There were no issues and UPS Ltd did everything we could have asked of them. The UPS Ltd engineer, Robert Gilchrist gave great support and provided practical advice to the on-site team to demonstrate the operation of the UPS including tests and checks that are required to maintain the system. Once everything was in place we ran a full ‘’Load Test’’, including a black start where we turn off the power supply and switch everything to run through the UPS, similar to the testing we did in Switzerland. The results of all those test were successful and in line with our expectations .The UPS package was handed over to the client on time and operating to full expectations.
     
    The system has now been protecting the Atlantic Quays facility since March 2014, with the UPS also now covering the building’s emergency lighting, fire alarms and security system. Throughout the summer the site was used by the Games organising committee, although thankfully the system is yet to be called upon in anger, as Steve Farmer concludes:
     
    “Since the system was installed, there haven’t been any outages but having the protection in place is obviously the most important thing. Working with UPS Ltd. certainly made the process as pain free as possible and their service, both before the sale and afterwards was fantastic. Every aspect of the process is well documented and the testing regime they put in place is comprehensive. Collectively it means the client has the upmost confidence that they’ve invested in a quality product, from a quality organisation.”
     
    Hampshire-based Uninterruptible Power Supplies Limited, a Kohler company, is the UK’s leading supplier of power support solutions, backing its products with comprehensive technical, installation, commissioning and maintenance services, and with an extensive track record in public sector, financial and retail channels.
     
  • More than 50 professionals gathered at UPS Ltd's premier event at the Shangri-La-Shard on 27th January, to listen to the following presentations:

    Innovation in UPS design & the benefits it can make to your critical facility - Mike Elms, UPS Ltd
     
    UPS Technical Presentation - Kenny Green, UPS Ltd
     
    Increasing safety, reliability and energy efficiency for today's data centres - Ciaran Flanagan, ABB Europe
     
    Case study: DigiPlex: data centres throughout the Nordics - Geoff Fox, DigiPlex
     
    For a copy of the slides please send an email with your contact details including job title and company name to marketing@upspower.co.uk
     
    The stunning views from the event suite added to the success of the event, with delegates commenting that the content of the presentations was 'very good' and the technical information was 'just right for the audience'.  One delegate even commented that his only issue was that he unfortunately had to miss the lunch at the event due to a pre-arranged meeting!
     
    See below photos taken on the day:
     
       
     
     

    We will be exhibiting at Data Centre World 2015 on the 11-12 March at ExCel London.  To join us for a drink, view our modular products, and to meet the team, register for free

  • The annual industry survey from Uninterruptible Power Supplies Ltd (UPS Ltd), which questions 2000 IT professionals across the UK, has revealed that reliability and professional maintenance services are the most important priorities for UPS users.
     
    The survey found that over 88 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement 'maintenance and call out services are as important as the hardware itself', reflecting the business critical position UPS systems hold within IT organisations.
     
    The survey further demonstrated the importance of UPS reliability, divulging that 66.05 per cent of respondents believe 'maximum reliability and uptime is the number one product feature they look for when selecting a new UPS system or supplier'.  High quality service was the second most popular option, followed by low total cost of ownership and having a dedicated account manager.
     
    Consistent with previous surveys, 'always having the latest product technology' was the least popular choice, with only 7.91 per cent claiming it as their most important attribute and almost 36 per cent identifying it as their least important factor when deciding on a UPS supplier.
     
    UPS Ltd's marketing director, Alan Luscombe, commented on the survey's findings adding: "We have always known that reliability and professional maintenance and support services were vital to our customers and the wider UPS industry.  But what's interesting is to see that total cost of ownership has falled insignificance from previous surveys, overtaken by high quality service. This could reflect a perceived easing of financial pressures or higher efficiency products filterning into the marketplace or an increasing in critical nature of the systems the respondents are responsible for.
     
    "Regardless, it demonstrates how users are looking for a UPS partner which will work with them and support them, not deliver a product and disappear. At UPS Ltd, we have invested heavily in building the only UK wide UPS support network able to offer 24/7/365 support, with guaranteed response times. Combined with all the benefits UPS Ltd is able to offer, we know that our service offering means a huge amount to the organisations we work with and the survey results support that belief."

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