Data Centre Management talks to general manager Leo Craig about the future of  UPS in the manufacturing space. 

The UK’s manufacturing and industrial sector expanded at its fastest rate for three years in April, according to the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). The survey showed that figures rose from 54.2 in March to 57.3 in April, well above economists’ expectations. This increase in productivity and growth of manufacturing firms will ultimately drive demand for data centre storage. With this growth, companies will need to focus more on ensuring business continuity, efficiency and eliminating downtime.

Why a UPS will become even more vital in the manufacturing sector

With the sector growth, the threat of power fluctuations and disturbances remain ever present. Even a power shutdown or breakdown in the supply of monitoring and control information can have a disastrous effect on productivity which ultimately could impact on a manufacturers bottom line. Statistics show that even just one unplanned downtime event can cost a manufacturer around £1.6m, but the real cost could be even higher. Therefore, the importance of investing in back-up power in the form of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is key for a company to ensure it can operate at an optimum production level should disturbances occur.

When you consider that 45 per cent of equipment failures occur due to voltage disturbances, the importance of keeping voltage stable and minimising instances of downtime becomes clear. A UPS can come into its own to not only protect against power outages but also to operate as an effective power conditioning unit by smoothing out sags, surges and brownouts to provide a clean and stable supply. It’s also possible to use your UPS solely as a power conditioner without batteries. Batteries can only be kept in environments up to 20 degrees Celsius so this method allows a UPS to operate in higher temperatures.

Maintaining a UPS

With an increased reliance on a UPS, regular maintenance also becomes more important to help prevent periods of downtime caused by malfunction. Whilst most manufacturers have a maintenance plan in place for standard equipment, the UPS equipment can often be overlooked.

A UPS maintenance plan not only gives you the peace of mind of having access to technical expertise, but essentially saves companies money by ensuring you maximise the lifespan of the technology. They are designed to provide more comprehensive cover than a warranty and a guaranteed emergency response time; defined in either working or clock hours. Riello UPS now offers guaranteed fixed response times as part of the standard SLAs, and you can choose between silver (12 working hours), gold (eight working hours) or platinum (same day, four clock hours) maintenance plans.

Having a maintenance agreement in place with a trusted technical expert also gives you 24/7 service availability and access to spares across the UK. Unlike other manufacturers, Riello UPS stocks all spare parts/components in various strategically placed warehouses across the UK combined with a multimillion pound stock holding at its headquarters where UPS up to 500kVA are ready for immediate dispatch within 24 hours.

Maintenance agreements also cover regular preventative engineer visits, firmware updates and fully comprehensive cover as well as remote monitoring and diagnosis. Agreements are available either in or out of warranty, although be aware that the ‘out of warranty’ costs can rise. Best practice would be to request a price from your UPS supplier for a fixed price maintenance plan.

The manufacturing future

With such a high cost on downtime, manufacturers simply cannot afford to ignore power protection like UPS, and the importance of a good maintenance plan. Complex industrial installations are critical and require an exceptional level of resilience and reliability under all operating and environmental conditions. Having the right UPS in place will not only give you peace of mind if machinery does fail, but will give you the added reassurance that instances of downtime will be reduced.