Leo Craig, general manager of Riello UPS Ltd, talks to Risk UK about the importance of protecting industrial productivity.

The UK’s tech sector is growing faster than the UK economy, according to a recent report by Tech Nation. In fact, the UK leads in Europe, attracting £28bn in tech investment since 2011 compared to £11bn in France and £9.3bn in Germany. The impact of this growth in tech is being felt across many sectors but none more so than in industrial, where digital manufacturing is becoming more commonplace.

Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is set to transform the manufacturing and production industry through new digital innovations which will improve productivity. From the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and robotics, to 3D printing and artificial intelligence, the digitisation of manufacturing will increase the demand for data centre storage. Whilst space in a data centre is key, so too is ensuring business continuity, efficiency and productivity.

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

Power fluctuations and disturbances can have a major impact in the industrial sector. At a large-scale manufacturing plant for example, a power shutdown or breakdown in the supply of monitoring/control information can have a disastrous effect on productivity which ultimately could impact on a business’ 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.

Having back-up power supply in the form of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) therefore is key for a facility to operate safely until full power is restored.

Machinery is vulnerable to numerous electrical anomalies – from voltage sags and spikes to harmonic distortion and other interruptions. 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 become clear. In this situation, a UPS can really come into its own to not only protect against power outages but also to operate as an effective power conditioning unit. It works by smoothing out sags, surges and brownouts to provide a clean and stable supply. Ultimately this prevents damage to sensitive and expensive electronic equipment. A UPS needs to be in online mode to give full protection against the ‘dirty’ power that causes disruptions to data centre services.

It’s also possible to use your UPS solely as a power conditioner without batteries. Batteries can only be kept in environments up to 40 degrees Celsius so this method allows a UPS to operate in higher temperatures. For example, offices next to heavy industry, such as cranes moving cargo at docks, can be affected by flickering lights. In this situation, a UPS can be used as a power conditioner on the power supply to prevent this happening.

UPS maintenance in manufacturing

Manufacturing equipment should be subject to regular maintenance to help reduce instances of downtime caused by malfunction. Whilst most manufacturers have a maintenance plan in place for standard equipment, it’s also important to consider the UPS equipment. In an industrial scenario, you simply cannot afford for your equipment to fail, and in turn, the UPS supporting this must be maintained too. As an electrical device, a UPS can and will, go wrong at some point in its lifetime.

A maintenance plan therefore not only gives you the peace of mind of having access to technical expertise, but essentially saves you money by ensuring you maximise the lifespan of your technology.

UPS maintenance plans are designed to provide more comprehensive cover than a warranty and a guaranteed emergency response time; defined in either working or clock hours. With Riello UPS you can choose between silver (12 working hours), gold (eight working hours) or platinum (same day, four clock hours) maintenance plans. These are guaranteed response times.

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 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.

Riello UPS’s industrial solutions have been protecting oil and gas infrastructures, power stations and other industrial installations for decades, making Riello UPS the industrial partner for every business in the sector.