Industrial UPSs represent a great way for electrical contractors to increase business from new and existing customers. It’s just a matter of understanding all the potential applications for UPSs in commercial and industrial settings – many of which may not be immediately obvious.

In general, applications that are critical in a commercial or industrial building – and thus require UPS protection – fall into one of four categories:

  • Business process continuity, meaning systems required to keep the business operating and prevent damage to equipment, such as machinery on a production line.
  • Safety and security systems, including emergency lighting, security cameras, fire alarms and smoke extraction systems.
  • Heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems that are required not only for employee and customer comfort, but also for business purposes – such as the protection of temperature sensitive equipment or products in a manufacturing plant.
  • Data and smart business applications, including IT systems that support integrated inventory, sales and supply chain functions.

Within those categories, you will find many potential industrial UPS applications. The following are just a few examples in various industries.

electrical contractor discussion industrial UPS

electrical contractor discussion industrial UPS

Building & Infrastructure UPS applications

The “building” category covers small- to medium-sized buildings such as retail stores, restaurants and hotels. “Infrastructure” refers to highways and tunnels, airports, water waste treatment plants and the like.

Here the obvious applications include the point-of-sale systems, alarms, telecom systems including Wi-Fi, HVAC and IT systems.

But plenty of not-so-obvious applications are also in play, including digital signage and warning devices, elevators, pumps and power management systems. Think about a parking garage or lot during a power outage: without UPS backup, you can’t process payments or lift the gate. Not good for business.

Plenty of UPS opportunity in healthcare

Healthcare is likewise rife with applications that demand industrial UPS protection. The low-hanging fruit includes operating rooms, emergency and intensive care units. Valuable and sensitive machines including MRI and CT scan systems are likewise natural candidates.

Systems that may not be top-of-mind include laboratories, nursing stations and wastewater treatment systems. Healthcare facilities also rely heavily on their IT systems, so data centers, server rooms and wiring closets will also demand UPS protection.

Protecting critical transportation applications

Airports also have plenty of critical applications that require UPS backup, including all the air traffic control systems, lighting for runways and automation control systems. Consider also the luggage screening systems, including consoles, workstations and x-ray systems. Airports have various automation systems, such as for luggage handling, as well as lots of emergency systems, including call stations, lighting and fire alarms. They also have large parking facilities that demand UPS protection.

Train and subway stations present similar opportunities. Consider track change control systems, monitoring systems, and systems for communicating with passengers and among employees. Automated fare collection systems demand industrial UPS protection as do kiosks for ticketing as well as automated platform screen doors.

Consider, too, the various retail facilities within a typical train station. Just a few weeks ago I was in a train station in Barcelona, one of about 30 people in line at a coffee shop. Shortly after I was served, the power went out and the cash register went down – no backup there, apparently. Not only did the store lose business, it made plenty of potential customers unhappy.

Focus Industrial UPS discussions on business outcomes

I was half-tempted to find the coffee shop manager and educate him on the value of UPSs. Such a discussion would have focused on the business value an industrial UPS provides: protection against lost business and disappointed or angry customers in the coffee shop case.

In other cases, such as a hospital or airport, the business consequences of a power failure can be far more dire. All of them present opportunities for electrical contractors to have meaningful discussions with customers, educating them on the value of UPS in protecting their business interests – whether that’s revenue or customer safety.

Once you educate the customer, the next step is finding the industrial UPS that’s a good fit for their needs. Schneider Electric can help, with our Secure Power Industrial Selector tool. It will help you quickly hone in on the UPS models that will work best given the parameters of what you need to protect, in terms of wattage, required run time and more. Try it for yourself or with your customer by your side, and start taking advantage of the many opportunities that commercial and industrial buildings present.

One thing you can count on when you are in charge of data center management: the demand for data will keep growing. Thanks to cloud computing and mobile applications, data centers expanded substantially in recent years. Now, as the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge deployments get under way, you can expect even more growth.

“Excellent,” you might say. “Growth is good.” And it sure is, but there is also a potential downside. Unplanned, unsupervised growth creates complexity. If you cannot reduce the complexity of data centers, it’s bound to give you a headache no amount of aspirin will cure.

data center management

data center management

So, what do you do? You need a data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solution that gives you a global view of the data center environment down to each single asset, simplifies management in the cloud and at the edge, and increases overall operational efficiency. Ideally, this tool helps you plan capacity, track inventory, and assess risk — so you can run your data center without the fear you’ll run out of power, or end up with damaged equipment as a result of poor air flow and cooling.

Data centers by nature are complex spaces, brimming with racks of equipment and data and power cables, so it’s imperative managers get their arms around management and operations to avoid downtime.

If you’re managing a colocation facility, with multiple tenants sharing common resources, you face a similar situation. Downtime can be especially punitive if it affects multiple tenants. And, as tenants’ needs scale up, you need the agility to adapt to their demands. Another challenge for colocation providers is managing tenant growth rate while new tenants are coming in and others are leaving. Providers need the ability to scale adeptly to variations in demand. To face these challenges, colocation providers can leverage DCIM to manage demand, increase efficiencies, and remain profitable.

Balancing the Ecosystem with Data Center Management

A data center is a balanced ecosystem of interacting components — or at least it should be. Move one component and you’re bound to affect several others, potentially upsetting the entire equilibrium.

Let’s say you need to add a rack or a server. Where will it go? At first glance, the obvious answer might be an empty corner or unpopulated aisle. But is there enough airflow in the area? Is the cooling system powerful enough to keep temperatures at the optimal levels in that space? What about power? Is there enough UPS capacity?

The same questions come up when you are moving a server or storage unit. Like Jenga pieces, as soon as you move one piece of equipment, you may be putting other components at risk. To avoid all that, a DCIM solution will guide you through the planning and management of your data center or colocation facility through modeling and analytics insights. When integrated into existing systems, it will provide you with one tool that consolidates data for enhanced end-to-end visibility. With additional cloud-based monitoring, you’ll get real-time data that will make your modeling and planning even more precise when it comes to power consumption.

This approach provides critical insights before implementing data center infrastructure changes, which lowers risk and increases ROI. You can model to optimize space and capacity, analyze business impact, automate workflows, and control utility costs. Here’s how:

Asset management and planning —An inventory management tool provides an overview of data center operations as well as details of all assets in the environment, including servers and racks.

Risk planning —This capability helps you determine how a change, such as shutting down a device, impacts the environment by, for instance, adding too much heat or overburdening the power supply.

Change management —Workflow automation helps reduce human error and leverages best practices with all moves, additions, and changes.

Capacity planning —This capability lets you analyze the infrastructure to determine the optimal location for the next server or rack.

Why Cloud-based DCIM for Data Center Management?

It’s clear why DCIM with visibility and risk planning capabilities is a real lifesaver, but why have it in the cloud? A cloud-based solution not only helps you shift from reactive to predictive mode; it also spares you from all maintenance and management of the solution itself. All the software updates and security patches are applied automatically, so you don’t have to bother with any of that. Instead, your staff can focus on running the data center in the most streamlined, efficient manner possible.

Get Started with Cloud-based DCIM

The increasing market appetite for data will not change anytime soon, but you can successfully manage this growth with the right tools. Explore how to optimize the management of your data center or colocation facility with a cloud-based DCIM approach.

Previously published on Datacenter Dynamics.

The future of mobile broadband relies on 5G, the latest generation of telco – and this generation is going to rely on a multi-level data center architecture. After years of hype, 5G is becoming a reality with major telco providers finishing test sites and announcing plans to broadly deploy it. AT&T is working to advance its 5G efforts with the “5G Evolution”, which is laying the groundwork for 5G coverage across the country through the expansion of its LTE Advanced network. Verizon, meanwhile, recently announced its first 5G network went live in Chicago in early April.

Still, most carriers remain vague on planned dates to have their 5G networks online, as the majority of operators realize that for 5G to function at its claimed performance level of 10Gbps and <1ms latency, providers must ensure they are laying the foundation for a network of data centers that can support its deployment and operational requirements. This is all to say that in 2019 and beyond, mobile users won’t be aware of the underlying data center architecture, but, they surely feel the effects when uploading or downloading is very slow or the service is not available – when the edge goes down. That’s why we need to rethink resiliency at the edge.

Strategies for Building and Maintaining Resiliency at the Edge

Telecom companies will spend billions to support their demanding mobile edge cloud. Still, edge computing challenges exist, mostly due to the massive number of deployments that need coordination and the corresponding remote and site management needed for upkeep and troubleshooting. As 5G forces the industry toward the edge, we must look for ways to support the growth and maintain the increasingly critical edge by creating a collaborative ecosystem that builds resiliency.

Modern factory and communication network concept.

Modern factory and communication network concept.

To effectively and efficiently manage edge, operators should consider these three must haves for building and maintaining resiliency:

  1. An integrated ecosystem: Edge resiliency can only be achieved and maintained when physical infrastructure vendors, system integrators, IT equipment manufacturers and managed service providers work together to create an ecosystem of resources that provides open systems and open access to data and outputs. Giving access to all required stakeholders will be critical for data-sharing. Additionally, this ecosystem of stakeholders needs to work together towards fully integrating modular micro data centers at the edge, which allow providers to quickly build and deploy data center capacity in nearby metros when it’s needed. These environments include all the IT hardware, security, networking, environmental monitoring, rack access and physical infrastructure needed within a stand-alone secure enclosure to protect critical business applications.
  2. Management tools: Legacy data center tools are no longer adequate for edge deployments. With a lack of staff available at edge locations to manage operations and respond to issues, management tools, especially those that are cloud-based and encourage data access and sharing, keep sites secure and provide advanced warning before issues arise. With a cloud-based management tool, operators will no longer have individualized tools for each site that need to be managed separately and require individual IP addresses. Instead, they’ll have access to an app or website that provides one dashboard to manage all components as a single system at any given edge site, reducing maintenance requirements, enhancing efficiency and providing enhanced cybersecurity to protect against potential threats.
  3. Analytics and AI: To support actionable decision making, data must be consolidated across the edge network and analyzed to determine potential issues before downtime occurs. By integrating analytics and AI into a solid foundation that’s supported with a cloud architecture, as well as data lake and subject matter experts, data can be properly aggregated, analyzed and secured. Supported with machine learning and AI capabilities, operators can more accurately create AI use cases, identify critical variables, normalize data sets and provide the power needed to analyze all data. By combining the capabilities of AI and analytics with human talent, teams can benchmark performance, determine patterns, generate alerts and create scorecards to minimize hours spent on alarms, reduce downtime and enhance their peace of mind.

Overcoming these Challenges for a Critical Edge

While 5G is not fully deployed, it’s still a major factor driving the market toward the increasingly critical edge. Service providers already feel the pressure to process data quickly and prevent their customers from experiencing the effects of latency. Now, the availability of smaller data centers has a bigger implication. To successfully manage this brave new world, the industry needs to rethink its approach to resiliency at the edge and explore solutions that will help overcome the major challenges to getting there. Check out this full presentation I held at OCPSummit19 where I discuss ensuring resiliency at the edge through a collaborative ecosystem.

You regularly change your car’s oil. This inexpensive act of preventive maintenance keeps your engine running and saves you from having to buy a new replacement engine, which works out at about 20 percent of the cost of a new vehicle.

With your car, a little prevention can save thousands. With your electrical facility, preventive maintenance can save you millions.

It is a fact that poorly maintained switchboards are 62 percent more likely to fail[1]. What’s more, experience indicates that equipment lasts longer and performs better with a preventive maintenance program. The total cost of ownership minimized when equipment upkeep is done at proper intervals, which for a typical installation means every 2 to 3 years[2].

Maintenance consists of a corrective component, the type of work done after something breaks, and a preventive part, which is work done before a breakdown. Corrective costs can be very high and can be brought down by preventive maintenance[3]. But expenses rise with more prevention and eventually this increase amounts to more than the decrease in corrective costs. Thus, there is a sweet spot, a correct amount of maintenance that minimizes the overall total cost of ownership.

Finding this sweet spot can be challenging, often requiring adjustments in the frequency of maintenance. Usually this can be done by following one of three common preventive maintenance scheduling schemes, which are broken down as below:

Calendar-based – maintenance is done after a set interval of time. These recommendations are often defined by the manufacturer. This approach requires record-keeping and scheduling. Also, routine inspections must be carried out to establish whether a facility is working at an optimal level or not.

Predictive – relies on the actual condition of equipment, rather than the average life or expected life statistics, to predict when maintenance will be required.

Prescriptive – these schedules are devised by experts aided by machine learning software, again based on equipment data analysis and failure information.

Each of these maintenance scheduling methods requires data, and all are helped by a computerized approach. A calendar-method is the simplest and may be what an equipment maker, a panel builder or an electrical contractor calls for. However, a calendar, predictive- or prescriptive-based schedule may lead to a lower overall cost.

To see why, consider what happens if a calendar-based approach is strictly followed, and a facility shuts down for an extended time due to a holiday. Days with minimal activity and a largely idle panel count the same as busy ones. In this case, there may excessive and thus unnecessary maintenance, which means the total cost of maintenance will be higher than it needs to be.

Picking the right maintenance frequency and schedule can be tricky and there is no one correct answer. Fortunately, Schneider Electric has scalable solutions that address these different types of preventive maintenance schedules.

For time-based approaches, we offer EcoStruxure™ Facility Expert. With its Digital Logbook feature, facility managers can generate a maintenance plan for their critical electrical equipment, send reminders and track how much time has passed since the last maintenance. They can then arrange for work to meet the schedule, keeping in mind holidays, shutdowns and critical times when a panel or equipment cannot be taken offline.

EcoStruxure Facility Expert

EcoStruxure Facility Expert

With EcoStruxure Facility Expert, access the maintenance plan by simply scanning the QR code

For predictive scheduling, consider Facility Expert – Operations or EcoStruxure™ Power Monitoring Expert these solutions interpret real-time data to effectively manage maintenance. For a prescriptive based scheduling solution, consider EcoStruxure Advisor services. There are dedicated Schneider Electric experts in service centers who are on hand to provide support and service prescription interval recommendations.

As pointed out, performing maintenance before things go wrong, will minimize the cost of owning and operating an electrical facility. And that is well worth it, because, to paraphrase an old saying, “A dollar saved is better than a dollar earned”.

For more information about our EcoStruxure solutions, please visit our website.

[1]IEEE 493 – https://standards.ieee.org/standard/493-2007.html
[2] NFPS 70B – https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards/detail?code=70B*
[3] https://www.risktec.tuv.com/risktec-knowledge-bank/asset-integrity-management/emit-optimisation-getting-more-out-of-existing-equipment-for-less/