Why do business owners wait for power to fail before checking a UPS?

By Andy Parfitt, Managing Director, Harland Simon UPS.

If the past few months have proved anything, it’s that the weather in this country can no longer be predicted. From hurricanes resulting in strong winds and devastating floods, to the warmest December since records began, 2015 and the start of 2016 have seen the UK forced to face extreme weather conditions. As business owners battle to protect their business against unexpected power outages, recent events have demonstrated not only the importance of having a ruggedised UPS in place, especially in harsh environments, but also of making sure that the UPS is maintained. After all, no business owner wants to find out that an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) isn’t working at the exact moment the power fails. 
Whilst it has become widely recognised that an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a vital piece of equipment that organisations, from water treatment plants to transport agencies and even hospitals must have, many are still forgetting that maintaining them is just as vital. The implications of not having a UPS in place are simple; if power fails in a water treatment plant, water can become contaminated, if a railway signal fails or power to traffic lights is lost – lives are at risk. If power fails in a factory, the production line stops and money is lost through no sales being made in-store.
Once a UPS is fitted and installed, it’s often common practice for many to forget that it’s there. Although UPS’ are deployed to restore peace of mind, and of course to keep critical power running in the event of a failure, forgetting to maintain the UPS is a dangerous mistake.
But how often do UPS’ really need to be maintained? With myths declaring that every 5 years is enough, and some sources even quoting up to ten years, the truth is that with a UPS made up of complex electrical pieces of equipment; from fans to filters and batteries to other components, in order to keep it healthy, working and able to do its job, it should be checked and maintained once a year.
To prepare for winter, most people make sure they’ve got a thick coat, stocked up on de-icer, taken their car for a MOT and given their boilers a service. So it’s surprising that business owners that rely on an uninterruptible power supply to protect critical parts of the UK infrastructure aren’t taking the same approach with their UPS.
With train companies risking fines for delays and water authorities facing penalties for misplaced sewage, the fact is that organisations can’t afford to have a UPS fail due to a lack of maintenance.
Although all UPS’ need a yearly health check, there have been developments in battery technology that can help organisations – from SMEs to large corporations to make substantial long term cost savings and operational gains, through the promise of a much longer life span than traditional solutions. Lead Crystal® batteries (LCBs) are designed to withstand extreme temperatures from -40°C to +65°C, and have a service life of up to 12 years at +20°C, even 7.5 years if used at +40°C, which is 3-5 times longer than valve-regulated lead-acid batteries (VRLA). This said, all batteries, including LCBs, need an annual health check.
So the question is, with industries in Europe losing ˆ150 billion due to power issues and the weather in the UK becoming more and more unpredictable, why are business owners willing to take the risk by not regularly maintaining their UPS?
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