Nothing can be more frustrating than thinking you have got your UPS adequately covered; only to find out when you really need some help it is outside of scope. However, the realities are it is very difficult to cover every eventuality; you just need to be assured that you have all the right steps in place and through regular servicing and maintenance situations are kept to an absolute minimum.
Choosing the right maintenance plan
So, first of all why should you have a maintenance plan? There are many involved and technical elements to a UPS, which unfortunately while you get the reassurance that the system is there when needed, it also means there are a lot of parts that can go wrong! Maintaining UPS components can help them to remain serviceable throughout their design life, negating the need to expensive replacement parts and the technical time required to fit them. In addition, a well-maintained UPS is also likely to run more efficiently than one serviced less regularly, and these efficiency improvements can also lead to cost savings.
With all these benefits, how do you go about choosing the right maintenance plan? Really, the key is to decide upon a maintenance plan that fits with the power distribution method an organisation wants their UPS to employ. But what does this really mean? Five 100kVA units in a decentralised power distribution setup may be less expensive in terms of components than a single 500kVA unit in a centralised power distribution setup. However, the maintenance cost of servicing multiple units on a regular basis could far exceed any savings made from the initial cost of the units.
Deciding on what level of monitoring
All UPS systems really need to be monitored. Alerts should be swiftly acted upon, so the more robust the communication channels between the UPS and personnel, the greater the opportunity for problems to be quickly rectified and business levels maintained. The very best situation is obviously a 24/7, 365 days a year monitoring and alert system supported by round the clock staff being available to respond. However, the reality is that this is not always practical from a budget perspective, which is why it is important to work with a support company that can meet specific requirements with a range of monitoring and maintenance plans.
Centralised or decentralised UPS support
Generally, these sorts of plans are much easier to implement and manage when there is a centralised approach, rather than a decentralised one, as only one unit needs to be monitored. However, the realities are requirements don’t always lend themselves to having a centralised approach and systems evolve, which is why it is important to establish the scope of monitoring and maintenance required (including an aspect of future-proofing) from the outset.
In practical terms, a UPS operating on a centralised approach will usually:
- Be contained in a dedicated area, making it safer for engineers conducting inspections, and reducing disruption to other areas of the business
- Incorporate a maintenance bypass switch as part of its installation, meaning detailed inspections can be conducted without disruption to the supported loads
However pragmatically, this is not always feasible as a decentralised approach could mean there are a variety of UPS operating in various locations throughout an organisation. So, inspection times are potentially increased, which will obviously also impact on the inspection costs. The downside too, of a decentralised system is that it is more difficult to isolate the unit in order to conduct a detailed inspection. Often the only way to complete a comprehensive inspection in this situation is to remove the units from the site, which can prove challenging as these systems may not have a maintenance bypass installed, so require being deactivated from the system, leading to downtime.
Creating a dynamic maintenance and monitoring plan
Working with a versatile organisation, such as Critical Power, which have extensive knowledge of UPS installations and their intricacies means that every eventuality has been seen before. As illustrated by case studies, whether for a financial institution, critical hospital environment, data centre or manufacturing line, Critical Power uses their experience day in, day out to ensure power continuity is maintained. Regardless of the nature of a UPS and the number of inter-dependencies, there are always ways of working round long established UPS set-ups in order to create an effective monitoring and maintenance plan.