Power and Electrical Solutions that Optimize Business Operations
When business operations are interrupted by failure or temporary stoppage of electrical equipment, power disturbances are usually the root cause of these problems. Power disturbance issues have existed since the first electrical device was developed. Power disturbances occur when the designed characteristics of electrical voltage to a device change unexpectedly. Power disturbances can cause an electrical device to fail. When the device usually fails, it is because the electrical conditions have stressed it beyond its maximum ratings.
A power disturbance can be any of the following:
When a facility’s infrastructure is not properly designed to manage and protect the electrical equipment within the facility against power disturbances, then the results will be some type of failure on electrical equipment or their circuits. Either can cause partial or total electrical systems failure, individual electrical equipment failure and network crashes. After a partial or total outage of electrical systems and equipment occur, some type of business stoppage results while the equipment is replaced, repaired, or restarted. Computers at times will lockup, and corruption or loss of valuable data from servers, workstations, and PLC’s can occur.
Every Year 72 Percent of all US Businesses are Interrupted from Power Disturbances
On average, each US business will experience 3.9 power disturbances per year, here are some more facts about power disturbances:
When businesses were questioned about electrical outages, businesses stated the following:
Some examples of power disturbance events and effects are the following:
All of these power disturbance events can cause damage or total failure of equipment, hardware, software, and data loss or corruption.
The High Costs of Power Disturbances
When calculated, the average cost of power disturbances for the average business is:
Data centers are much more susceptible to power disturbances and the cost per year within companies in these areas can average more than $23,000 per year.
The bad news is that power disturbances cannot be stopped from occurring. A business can only prepare for power disturbances by understanding how to protect the equipment that means the most to the business. Not all businesses are alike which means that different preparations and protection methods need to be utilized for different types of businesses.
The Trouble with the National Electric Code (NEC)
Most businesses believe that electrical systems problems are prevented by following the National Electric Code (NEC); however, that is not the case. To follow and adhere to the NEC provides only the minimal accepted safety for personnel and property. According to the purpose of the NEC, little, if any, consideration is given to equipment reliability, electrical expansion, or if the equipment will actually function in the building. This is why businesses need to go above and beyond the NEC.
Some accepted codes and standards that help optimize business operations are the following:
The Problems with the RRR Method
The typical normal restoration process when an outage or equipment failure occurs is called the RRR method. It involves, restoring the power to the device (R), repairing the device (R), and the possible replacement of the device (R). The main goal of this method is to get the equipment online as soon as possible. This method is a cycle that cannot be stopped unless the proper equipment protection measures are implemented.
The More Efficient PRRR Method
The cycle can only be broken by first preventing, reducing, or eliminating the effect that the power disturbance has on business operations. This requires proper analysis, design, and implementing protection methods to control power disturbance events before outages and equipment failure takes place. This approach is called the PRRR approach. It involves prevention (P) of restoring the power to the device (R), repairing the device (R), and replacing the device (R). If outages or equipment failure still takes place after preventative measures are implemented then documentation, investigation, and analysis for what protective measures failed needs to be completed. Once the problem is located, corrective measures need to be taken to prevent the failure from reoccurring.
The PRRR approach is a holistic facility protection approach that includes using:
Utilizing the holistic PRRR approach assures that performance goals can be met for equipment installation, performance, and reliability. By incorporating the holistic PRRR approach at facilities, ongoing electrical equipment failures and costly downtime losses from power disturbances can be reduced and possibly eliminated altogether. Once actual downtime costs are calculated and known, it clearly can be seen that prevention of outages and equipment failures actually saves businesses money and continues to pay back dividends year after year.
Some examples of power disturbance protective devices are the following:
Examples of power disturbance protective devices continued:
To properly manage the PRRR approach businesses should have either a power quality expert on staff or a consultant who is a subject matter expert (SME) on power quality.
Case studies have proven that equipment failures from power disturbances are drastically reduced or eliminated after these designs, standards, and practices are implemented. In many cases, customers were losing over $100,000 in equipment replacement every year from lightning damage alone. Typical customer equipment failures were reduced on average of 92 percent, in some other cases over ten years have passed without another equipment outage. These case studies have also shown that when the holistic approach is used on a facility, the return on investment is usually less than two years.
In conclusion, the root cause of electrical equipment failures is from power disturbances. Power disturbances occur to every business whether they go noticed or not and can be very costly. By utilizing a holistic approach businesses can be prepared, and protected against power disturbances saving businesses money from preventing equipment downtime and increasing profits year after year.