Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Boosting control of networked load banks during testing of backup generators can improve accuracy and efficiency

When testing backup generators at a hospital, data center, or other facility where uninterrupted power is critical, using a mix of networked smaller load banks can provide more flexible test capability. That flexibility can help optimize testing efficiency and productivity. Advantages of load controllers that can monitor and control networked load banks located locally or up to several hundred feet away include:

  • using smaller load banks, which makes it easier to get test capacity into space-restricted areas, eliminating the need for long cable runs from large, street-based load banks
  • when testing multiple networked load banks, a controller that can monitor and control vary, accept or reject the loads on a single unit can save time

 A controller that also enables the user to test a single load bank locally enables the ability to monitor temperature at a specific server rack location to determine how an HVAC system reacts to temperature changes.


What features are important to you when using multiple load banks to test backup generators?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Pluses of Specifying UL-Listed Transfer Switches for Critical Systems

When specifying transfer switches for critical systems, reliability and durability are of paramount importance. Electrical manufacturers offer a range of transfer switches to meet the needs of various types of facilities and customer goals.

Options include UL-certified products that meet requirements based primarily on UL’s published and nationally known standards for safety. For best assurance of operation as expected, select a switch that, specifically, is UL-1008 listed.

To help ensure transfer switches operate dependably, UL developed a standard, UL 1008, to which transfer switches for installation in emergency backup power systems can be certified. The standard was established to guard against transfer switch failures and potential resulting fires and is both a performance standard and design and construction standard.

UL-1008 listed transfer switches have undergone rigorous third-party testing and been found to comply with strict requirements that can sustain and meet needs of data centers, healthcare facilities, telecom facilities, and other mission critical businesses and establishments where uninterrupted power is critical. A UL 1008 listed transfer switch can transfer at least 3,000 times, with 1,000 of those times under at least 100% of rated load.

In addition, if rated at lower amperes, a UL 1008 listed transfer switch must be capable of completing 6,000 transfers under 100% load or greater. Given that a transfer switch might be tested monthly and annually, those requirements help ensure durability over the long run of potentially many decades of operation.

With a UL 1008 listed switch, the range of tests show that the switch can operate after withstanding and closing-on a severe fault current, bolted fault, or short circuit within the electrical distribution system. This testing meets the NEC Articles 517, 700, 701, and 708.

When specifying a UL 1008 switch, look at the literature accompanying the transfer switch for clear documentation of that testing. If the literature merely says “as per UL standards” or “meets UL standards” the switch might not actually have been UL tested.

Look for more precise language, such as “tested and certified by UL 1008” or “UL 1008 listed” and – of utmost importance – the switch should carry a UL inside a circle logo label and identification as cited in the standard as to the type of switch it is. For example, for an automatic transfer switch (ATS) it should say just that – “automatic transfer switch.”

Along the same lines, a UL 1008 listed non-automatic switch would carry the UL logo and be labeled ‘non-automatic transfer switch.’ Switches that come with all this documentation and labeling have been third party tested to meet those requirements.

Some manufacturers certify their equipment at 480VAC only. At least one manufacturer goes further, certifying its ATSs for 480 and 600VAC equipment.        
Selecting a UL 1008 ATS may also make sense for other reasons, as well, including heightened efficiency. Specifications for automatic transfer switches at some installations at critical facilities may call for meeting the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Life Safety Code and other applicable NFPA standards, such as NFPA 99 and 110. Selecting a transfer switch manufactured by a company that offers only transfer switches that are UL 1008 listed makes it easier for inspectors at installations where a UL 1008 listed transfer switch is required.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Tips for maximizing reliability of newly commissioned EPSS

For critical facilities where backup power is essential, there are certain steps good to follow after commissioning a new EPSS. Following them will help preserve all the intellectual property which documents the design, factory witnessed testing, installation, and site-benchmarking associated with the commissioning of a facility’s emergency power supply system. Maintaining up-to-date records for ready access is, indeed, a very important and necessary step in the overall process of protecting the facility and helping ensure maximum efficiency in the operation of the facility whenever emergency power comes into play. Here are a couple of tips:

  1. Throughout the useable lifetime of the system, because programs may be modified, capacity increased, and/or control set points adjusted, it is important to put into place a strict revision control policy that documents all changes and updates all media accordingly.
  2. Just as data center operators maintain mirrored operating systems, data files and facilities, so too should intellectual property related to the EPSS be treated, with redundant architecture established in house or off site. For example, a web-based service such as M.C. Access (a virtual building reference depository residing on a secure server accessible from anywhere in the world via the internet) would allow viewing of virtual representations of equipment physical location, nameplate and specification data by authorized personnel regardless of their location.
  3. It is important to maintain contact with your vendor, contractor & consulting team that designed, engineered, manufactured and commissioned your EPSS so when your maintenance vendor shows up to service or repair the EPSS, technical information of record is available.
  4. Maintain & audit a spare parts inventory list that contains the part description, application, manufacturer, manufacturer's part number & sources.
  5. Post – and keep up to date - a graphic one line diagram of the EPSS at the system controls or building operations office and keep it up to date. This would give a quick overview of the entire system for routine operations and in an emergency.

Any other suggestions you feel are important to note when aiming for reliability of the EPSS?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

When it comes to electrical installations, common sense helps address local issues national codes cannot cover

Given the immediate effects and longer term repercussions of flooding from Hurricane Sandy that impacted the energy infrastructure and critical facilities along the east coast of the United States, are you specifying electrical components differently to enable a facility to fare better in future hurricanes? 

Clearly and historically, national building codes do not take into consideration every local risk from extreme weather events or every possible human intervention. Prevailing NFPA codes still call for consideration for local needs.

For example, according to NFPA 110: Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, 2016 edition, Annex A, paragraph A.7.2.4, “EPSS [emergency power supply system] equipment should be located above known previous flooding elevations where possible.” This is unchanged from the 2013 edition. But there are certain actions that, after Hurricane Sandy, in many cases, should become more common because they make sense. For example, in areas where there historically has been flooding from rivers near or distant (as in recent flooding from Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina), installing the generator for backup power on the roof so it is above flood level makes sense. Same for fuel tanks and associated equipment – get them out of the basement. 

Other common sense decisions that may not be dictated even by updated code include practices such as, in mountain regions, planning for fuel delivery before the likely first-of-winter snowstorm; or, in earthquake-prone regions, designing in electrical components, such as transfer switches, that are built to withstand earthquake forces.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Decisions and more decisions when designing a backup power system?

In designing an emergency, legally required standby, optional standby, or critical operations power system for a facility, there are generally several factors key to the decision making process, including safety, code compliance, economics, maintenance requirements and practices, and fuel storage. Plus, applicable codes and standards include NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC); NFPA 110: Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems; and other codes and standards as they apply to backup power systems. 


There are significant differences among the types of backup systems. When designing generator systems for a specific facility, how do you ensure that the generator and building electrical systems they support are appropriate for the application and how do you decide whether the generators should be paralleled, where fuel should be stored, and what the switching scenarios should be?

Monday, June 20, 2016

When dependability is paramount, UL 1008 transfer switches deliver

When utility power at a data center fails, automatic switchover to a backup power system enabling “business as usual” is the ideal scenario. For reliability and the greatest likelihood that the switchover occurs flawlessly, many experts in business-critical continuity recommend installation of an automatic transfer switch certified to the latest UL 1008 (i.e. the 7th edition), a certification that requires conforming to extremely rigorous industry-recognized requirements. UL 1008 7th edition requires that now circuit breaker ratings must show short-circuit amperes, voltages, and time durations markings in seconds, rather than in cycles, among other important changes. Are you aware of the change and do you see any impact to normal functioning due to this change?    

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Building Code Standards for Seismic Certification

Building code standards for seismic certification of critical electrical equipment in essential facilities has evolved over recent years, with equipment now required to be capable of enduring higher ground acceleration levels to keep a facility operational both during and after a seismic event. There are special inspectors who look very closely at essential equipment to make sure it complies and is installed correctly. Equipment that does not meet code standards can lead to red-tagging during inspection, which in turn can result in slowdown of the construction schedule to replace the red-tagged equipment, an increase in cost of insurance, or even a declaration by the insurance company that the building is uninsurable. Any of this ever happen at any of your projects? Care to share?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

3 suggested “best practices” to help data centers and other large consumers of electricity become more efficient in its use

Data centers are huge consumers of electricity in the United States, consuming many billions of kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, with a fair percentage of that essentially and unfortunately wasted. Squandered energy is the result of a variety of reasons. These include: (1) less-than-optimized utilization of existing servers; (2) inefficient cooling practices; (3) running redundant cooling systems at full capacity 24/7/365; (4) maintaining a status quo infrastructure rather than upgrading the infrastructure to reduce inefficiencies.
Likely, many small, medium, corporate, and multi-tenant data centers are not as energy-efficient as they could be.
Where does management at your facility stand on energy-usage assessments, upgrades, and incentives internally and among customers that reward efficiency best practices?
Here are three suggestions to help data centers become more efficient in terms of power consumption, utilization of resources, timing of equipment purchases:
(1) Measure: establish a benchmark to quantify capacity of space, power, and cooling assets. Software such as that available in a DCIM solution can be a big help in this;
(2) Model your infrastructure, using historical data and what-if testing. DCIMs can provide good data and visuals for this task; (3) Reduce operating expenses by taking better advantage of existing equipment that might be underutilized and decommission unused equipment.
Does your facility take advantage of a DCIM, or perhaps a CPMS, or some other combination of hardware and software for power and infrastructure management? Care to share?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Four Reasons to Implement Continuous Power Quality Monitoring

When it comes to reliability of power, foresight beats hindsight, hands down. Compromised power quality can cause damage to electrical equipment, reduce productivity, and - if severe enough - disrupt business as usual. Variations in power quality at a facility can occur at any time, coming from voltage spikes, swells, and sags; harmonic disturbances; and interruptions of power that may last from a few milliseconds to 2+ seconds.

Proactive monitoring of power can incorporate sensors and meters to measure electrical sensitivity and software to record and interpret the data, along with communications (wired and wireless) to inform personnel about what is negatively affecting power quality and where in the electrical system that event occurred.

Here are four reasons to implement continuous power quality monitoring.  

1. Detection of a problem before it escalates, when it is easier to address, minimizes the likelihood of equipment damage or interruption of daily operations. The ability to review stored continuously recorded waveforms and spot anomalies helps in the diagnosis of problems. Early detection can facilitate proactive scheduling of repairs rather than emergency repair at a time when service personnel are not readily available or when shut-down of a load would be inconvenient.

2. Power quality analytics can contribute to development of a baseline that could be used to evaluate performance of electrical equipment and components over time and to detect performance trends that could impact preventive maintenance programs. It could also provide data that could help in predicting future power requirements, including those that would require purchasing additional electrical equipment such as servers or variable frequency drives. Power quality analytics also supports forensic investigation into how a chain of events occurred as it did and can identify power quality problems that can prematurely age equipment.

3. at facilities where good power quality and operational continuity are important, facility management benefits from having both a building management system (BMS), which operates on a narrow bandwidth at relatively low speed, and a complementary dedicated critical power management system (CPMS) that operates at a very high bandwidth and a very high speed and monitors and analyzes the operation and status of the electrical components of the normal power and emergency power systems from multiple points of access. A CPMS can generate power quality details such as transient harmonic displays or wave form capture, monitor current, normal and emergency voltages and frequency, power, and power factor, and can indicate transfer switch position and source availability. Web-enabled communications can provide access to the data from anywhere in the world.

4. Improved efficiency of a facility’s power infrastructure can save on energy costs; improved reliability of power can minimize occupant complaints about power issues and preserve good relations with tenants.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

When switching from primary to backup power, move over circuit breakers?

Move over, circuit breakers: When it comes to switching from primary power to backup power, it is now possible to use a transfer switch-based paralleling system that incorporates a high-endurance closed transition transfer switch mechanism for switching to paralleling generators, including those of different sizes and from different manufacturers. This type of system not only can offer the increased reliability that paralleling generators offer but can also provide a lot of flexibility for two, three, or four gen-set installations. This could be an attractive option at data centers, commercial and telecom operations, healthcare, government, and educational facilities, oil and gas processes, and other mid-tier facilities. At least one system integrates the power controls, switching mechanism, bus, metering, and user controls into a single UL891 listed switchboard, with the critical components independent and located separately from the engine-generator sets. That system also features a graphic touch screen as a window to metering, event and alarm logs, bus optimization, and load demand applications and can enable managing generators by runtime usage, assigned priority, or load requirement. Using a transfer switch based system instead of a circuit breaker to activate paralleling generators for standby or critical power could, indeed, be an attractive alternative to a circuit breaker. Would you consider such a system?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Innovative controller capabilities for load bank testing

When using load banks to test the reliability of generators for backup power at a data center, hospital, or other facility, networking smaller load banks located locally or up to several hundred feet away can help optimize testing efficiency and productivity. The ability to test a series of loads with a mix of smaller load banks can provide more flexible test capability. For example, using smaller load banks makes it easier to get test capacity into space-restricted areas, eliminating the need for long cable runs from large, street-based load banks.

There are several other advantages to testing networked load banks, as well.  For example, the ability to perform testing locally and remotely on networked load banks using industry-standard CAN bus communications protocol enables operators to monitor and control numerous load banks up to several hundred feet away.

In addition, when testing multiple networked load banks, a controller that can monitor and control vary, accept or reject the loads on a single unit can save time.

A controller that also enables the user to test a single load bank gives the ability to monitor temperature at specific serve rack locations to determine how an HVAC system reacts to temperature changes.

These types of productivity-enhancing controller capabilities are changing the face and pace of load bank testing.      

Are there other features you have come across or that you think are feasible?

Monday, March 14, 2016

TDIs for Monitoring and Controlling Power Systems?

The depth and volume of available data amassed, monitored, and controlled with respect to routine power and critical power at industrial and other facilities has increased dramatically in recent years. Conveniently, technology has kept apace with new streamlined ways for personnel charged with monitoring the data to view and interact with it through the use of touch display interfaces (TDIs).

Benefits of Touch Display Interfaces include graphical presentation of data that can improve accuracy of interpretation, faster personnel interaction with data, speeding and improving decision-making and, potentially, helping avert human error due to haste; boosting operational efficiency; and simplifying compliance. Because TDIs can be intuitive, they could also minimize training time. Monitoring personnel can view an array of easily understood graphics on a single touch screen. Depending upon the capabilities of a particular TDI-based control system, personnel can see an overview as well as detailed information such as energy, power quality, metering, charts, event log, set points, and notes.


In addition, TDIs for monitoring and controlling power systems can facilitate the ability to track, record and validate a facility’s energy consumption for demand response programs produced by normal source power or onsite gensets and trend power quality and capacity and peak power demand.

Does using a TDI for these types of information peak your interest? 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New stress-reducing approach to managing an ATS and critical power system helps increase power reliability

In monitoring power systems at large facilities, evolving touchscreen interface technology can offer personnel a more streamlined way of gathering, accessing, and understanding actionable information on routine and backup power systems. A monitoring system with touch screen interface, drill-down capabilities, and full color graphics that enable easier visualization of the information, including the real-time state of the ATS, could simplify and summarize large amounts of raw data to make quicker sense of it all. This type of user-friendly data crunching and visual presentation can speed and improve informed decision making during both routine and emergency power system operation. Incorporating this type of interface can speed up and improve decision making. Agree?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Touch Display Interfaces (TDIs) & automatic transfer switches

The ability to make easier sense of large amounts of data and more informed control are two significant advantages of touch display interfaces (TDIs) as they enter the business and industrial markets. In the world of emergency backup power, there is already available an innovative touch display interface from a major manufacturer of automatic transfer switches that facilitates streamlined and more informed management of an automatic transfer switch and critical power system. The graphics-rich TDI enables quicker understanding of real-time status of the ATS controls and measurements. Overview dashboards give the ability to see all sorts of details at a glance and also offer the ability to drill down into other screens for in-depth data on power quality, metering, digital and analog inputs and outputs, and other information that could be used for internal control decisions and forensic analysis. Do you see any value in such a capability? Would you invest in it?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Smart Money is on the IoT

The smart money in industry in 2016 is on the Internet of Things…make that the Internet of all things. GE wants to create a multibillion dollar business out of IoT. And Samsung recently launched a Hub with open protocols for connecting sensors and smart home accessories, enabling combining products from various manufacturers. Indeed, near-term viable prospects for the IoT include more widespread use of intelligent controls for everything from obvious matches such as HVAC systems, elevators, home security, and lighting to such categories as driverless cars, smart parking, optimization of driving routes to bypass traffic congestion, early detection of tremors in earthquake prone areas, and monitoring of variations of water levels in rivers and reservoirs. The reach of IoT is practically limitless. Where do you foresee the IoT at your facility and when?

Friday, January 8, 2016

The IIoT, new construction and renovations - on board?

The Internet of Things has become so pervasive that, not surprisingly, sub-categories have evolved that get their own abbreviations. The Industrial Internet of Things, aka the IIoT, encompasses the idea that smart machines are more adept and accurate than people in capturing and communicating data that can disclose problems or inefficiencies in industrial systems or processes. How does that that work for manufacturing plants that have legacy standalone systems in place that monitor electrical distribution, backup power systems, HVAC, lighting, and other systems? For many facilities, it is a challenge to figure out how to incorporate building automation that includes transformative technologies such as sensors to collect and analyze data and provide sophisticated in-depth analytics. When it's time to build new or undertake a major renovation, do you foresee the biggest obstacles being technical barriers, attitudinal resistance, budgeting, or other factor?

Monday, December 21, 2015

What’s managing your facility’s emergency/backup power system?

When power management is critical to business operations, the best practice may very well be to use a dedicated critical power management system (CPMS) to monitor, control and analyze their emergency power.

Operating at a very high bandwidth and speed, a CPMS monitors and analyzes the operation and status of the electrical components of the normal power and emergency power systems from multiple points of access. The very high rate of speed is necessary to generate power quality details such as transient harmonic displays or wave form capture. A CPMS can monitor current, normal and emergency voltages and frequency, power and power factor, and can indicate transfer switch position and source availability. Web-enabled communications can provide access to any/all of the information, including automatic alerts, from anywhere in the world.

A CPMS may also have the capability for testing to comply with regulatory reporting requirements. For example, specific reports can help meet various requirements such as the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 70, NFPA 99, and NFPA 110.

The systems often have some functions and alarms integrated into a building management system or data center infrastructure management system. High-end CPMSs feature integrated devices communicating on a dedicated network.

Functions commonly include power controls that ensure power reliability should something happen to the main utility feeds. The power controls may cover emergency generation sets, circuit breakers, transfer switches, bus bar, and paralleling control switchgear, as well as other equipment relating to emergency power.

Sophisticated CPMSs are used in high end data centers and co-location facilities, telecommunications sites, and hospitals and medical centers.

High-end power controls are proprietary or semi-proprietary solutions that run on their own dedicated independent backbone.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Are efficiency best practices on your radar yet?

Data centers are huge consumers of electricity in the U.S., consuming billions and billions of kilowatt-hours of electricity in the US every year, with a fair percentage of that squandered. Wasted energy results from a variety of reasons, including less-than-optimized utilization of existing servers; inefficient cooling practices; running redundant cooling systems at full capacity 24/7/365; and maintaining a status quo infrastructure rather than upgrading the infrastructure to reduce inefficiencies. 

The National Resources Defense Council, on its energy main page, notes that many small, medium, corporate, and multi-tenant data centers are much less efficient than some ultra-efficient large server farms operated by well-known Internet brands.

Where does management at your facility stand on energy-usage assessments, upgrades, and incentives internally and among customers that reward efficiency best practices?

Does your facility take advantage of DCIM, CPMS, or some particular combination of hardware and software for power and infrastructure management? Care to share?

Monday, November 30, 2015

The IoT and Facility Management – are you on board yet?

It’s almost 2016 – where are you in terms of facility management vis-à-vis the IoT? Is your facility using web-enabled building automation systems and/or wireless monitoring of building occupancy and activity to improve the comfort and productivity of building occupants and/or the safety and security of the facility?  

The Internet of Things is increasingly pervasive in daily facility management. Many newer facilities are built with online monitoring in mind. But the complexity of merging older buildings and new technologies does not always enable easy or optimized adoption of every new Internet capability that could benefit facility management.  

What is your experience in using the Internet to monitor power in your facility? Would you call your facility, at this point, a smart building?  

What benefits are you getting from the hardware and software you have implemented? Are you thinking of adding capabilities or do you already feel you are dealing with too much data. 

What does “Internet of Things” in facility management? It could mean a system that senses, transfers, and acts on information wirelessly. It could refer to a system that adapts to and anticipates facility management needs. It could be a system that proactively manage your environment.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

3 Proactive Ways for Data Center + IT Managers to Keep the Power Flowing

Three Ways to keep the Power Flowing 

1. Common causes for downtime caused by outage of primary power is the failure of the UPS battery or the load exceeding UPS capacity. Help avoid those events by installing a UPS that is adequately sized to support the load and monitoring and maintaining the batteries.

2. To help streamline managing the physical infrastructure on your data center (an undertaking that historically typically has relied on multiple software solutions), consolidate and manage the data within a single data center infrastructure management software platform, preferably one with holistic management capabilities and visibility into IT and facilities infrastructure.

3. Keep sensitive IT equipment away from liquids. Many unplanned power outages result from incursion of water or other water-based liquid - i.e. spilled bottled water, canned soda, or cup of coffee. To keep data center electronic equipment dry, keep the beverages in the break room.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Taking action to maintain reliable power

When aiming to maintain reliable power at a data center, hospital, or manufacturing plant, “proactive” is more effective than “reactive.” Keeping a close eye on the quality of utility power and the health of backup generators and associated components works out much better than waiting to fix an issue that has escaped detection until it becomes a major problem. The concept of proactive continuous monitoring of power is gaining traction in various types of facilities where uninterrupted power is a goal, if not a necessity. Today’s power monitoring solutions often integrate hardware (sensors, meters), software, and wired and wireless communications to “alert” need-to-know personnel at the earliest possible time, enabling maintenance or repair sooner rather than later. Have you/would you invest in power monitoring at your facility?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The IoT is gaining traction and has started to transform facility management, improving reliability and efficiency of HVAC and lighting systems

Already, CPMSs for data centers have incorporated smart CPM components that adjust to their environments or operating conditions. The smart components enable monitoring, control and reporting capabilities so that, rather than continuing to run until they fail, they call for maintenance that can help preclude that failure. This can be a significant advantage when the components are monitoring power quality. Increasingly, smart products are penetrating more and more facets of critical power management systems – e.g. safety and security, and building management systems. The dynamic is already creating interconnected facility management systems, or clusters. The clusters, composed of hundreds or thousands of sensors, can be designed for a single building, a multi-building campus, or geographically dispersed facilities. Do you agree with this assessment of how IoT is impacting facility management?    

Friday, October 16, 2015

Emergency and standby power in hospitals

This new article from Consulting Specifying Engineer was a very interesting read this morning. Here is a link to it and the magazine's subhead to the piece: Emergency and standby power in hospitals
Consulting engineers who specify emergency power equipment understand that installations for hospitals are required to comply with NFPA 110 in conjunction with NFPA 70. System designers must interpret the requirements of these standards, ensure their designs follow them, and educate their clients about how the standard affects their operations.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Red Cross recommendations for flood preparations

The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for floods by:
  • Downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App to your mobile device.
  • Creating and practicing a Disaster Plan:
  • Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit:
  • Heeding Flood Warnings:
  • Relocating During Flood Warnings:
  • Follow the link for detailed info.

Red Cross tips for emergency preparedness

Friday, September 25, 2015

8 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Maintenance Provider

Maintaining on-site power generation is more complex than ever. Here are 8 probing questions you should ask outside maintenance and service providers before selecting the one best qualified to help you optimize power reliability of your on-site power generation for mission critical systems.

1. Are your technicians manufacturer trained and authorized?

2. Do you provide 24-hour service? How?

3. How do you support your techs when they're on-site?

4. What type of service agreements do you offer?

5. Can you provide training for my staff likely to be first responders when a problem arises?

6. What spare parts do your techs carry to service my equipment?

7. How do you keep up with product changes and tecnical bulletins from the manufacturer?

8. What is the average of experience of your field techs on the equipment I have?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Why Load Bank Testing gets A+ in Many Facilities

Even when not mandated by code, periodic testing of emergency generators to ensure they are in good working order should disaster strike is a key component of good building operations strategy. How frequently to test is generally predicated upon several variables, including building occupancy, use of the building, and cost of interruption of business.

There are two options available to decision makers on how to test emergency power equipment. One way is to conduct building load testing, which puts the full building load on the emergency generators during an “off” period of time. The other way, which offers a lot of tangential benefits, is load bank testing with rented load banks or load banks the facility itself owns, which means the generators can be tested without shutting down a whole building to switch the power source to emergency generators.

Whatever route a facility takes – load bank testing with its own load banks or load bank testing with rented load banks – it is I important to keep accurate records of when and how the emergency generators were tested. This record keeping can be done by the company or by a third-party company if one is hired to do the testing. Here is a link to a good read: Load Bank Testing, White Paper

Friday, July 31, 2015

Paralleling switchgear for standby power systems is growing up

Paralleling switchgear for standby power systems is becoming more popular these days because of the introduction of sophisticated integrated digital control technologies that offer advantages to a wide range of installations, including healthcare facilities, data centers and other facilities where uninterrupted power is critical.
Digital control technologies make it easier to operate systems in parallel and enable running multiple smaller generators rather than one large generator to supply power when utility power fails. Advantages of installing multiple generators and paralleling switchgear include the ability to build in redundancy for increased reliability for critical loads and scalability as facility needs expand.
With integrated paralleling system, if one generator fails, the other generator can handle the most critical loads, shedding the non-critical loads. If the facility had only one generator and it failed, there would be no power for the critical load. This is redundancy that makes for greater reliability of power.
Some systems include high end capabilities in mid-range solutions. For instance, paralleling switchgear can include monitoring and control that is completely independent of the operator touch screen and generator control that is completely independent from the master controller. What is your experience with paralleling switchgear? If not yet using it, is it under consideration?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Changes to UL 1008

Are you aware of changes in short-circuit testing requirements, specific breaker qualifications criteria + how circuit breaker ratings appear on all transfer switch equipment as per 7th ed of UL 1008? Have you paid attention to the changes in short-circuit testing requirements, specific breaker qualifications criteria, and how circuit breaker ratings appear on all transfer switch equipment as noted in the 7th edition of UL 1008, the  Standard for Transfer Switch Equipment, released last November? If you are a specifying engineer, do you design projects with adherence to the new requirements of this latest edition in mind? What do you see as the benefits on your projects?  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Power fluctuations can hurt most any business, particularly those reliant on properly functioning electronic equipment: Specifying a TVSS for each installation can help ensure maximized performance

Power fluctuations can hurt most any business, particularly those reliant on properly functioning electronic equipment. Sensitivity to power fluctuations stemming from lightning strikes, surges in utility power, and surges generated within a facility can damage critical equipment and negatively impact the productivity of a facility and play havoc with a facility’s ability to conduct business and usual. TVSSs (transient voltage surge suppressors) limit transient voltages by diverting or limiting surge current and preventing flow of following current. They are designed to tolerate multiple exposures to a surge event. To achieve that, they should offer the appropriate level of protection for the size of the electrical load, which depends upon where in a facility each one is installed and the equipment it is intended to protect. Wherever it is installed, the short circuit current rating (SCCR) should match the SCCR of the branch panel or building service to be protected. Another important decision is: will the TVSS contain a circuit breaker internally or will it connect to a dedicated external circuit breaker in the panel.

Seismic Certification and Building Codes

Building code standards for seismic certification are being more broadly applied than before. They require that critical mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment must endure higher ground acceleration levels, or risk being red tagged during inspection, or worse. IBC editions from the year 2000 forward demand that critical equipment such as on-site power systems that power life safety and critical branches may need to withstand higher ground acceleration levels throughout the USA.

Every three years, the IBC revises its seismic provision to include new information and capitalize on new technologies. It is important for state and local governments to be sure the latest seismic standards are part of their codes. All states have adopted an earlier or current version of the IBC, which in that state is the prevailing code. Typically, it takes time for authorities having jurisdiction and engineering professionals to become fluent with them.

Nevertheless, many earthquake prone communities in the United States do not have up-to-date building codes with seismic provisions. In general, structures that comply with seismic standards should withstand minor seismic events undamaged, moderate events without  significant structural damage, and severe events without collapse. This is especially critical for installations in states, such as Idaho, Nevada, Washington, and Colorado, which can experience frequent and sometimes intense seismic activity.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Do you know the differences among a BMS, DCIM, and a CPMS?

Do you know the differences among a BMS, DCIM, and a CPMS? Though there are similarities, the differences are important to consulting engineers, contractors, building owners and facility executives at data centers. Though each is designed to improve efficiency and operational reliability, lower costs, and enhance worker safety, one technology may be a lot better suited for a given application than another. The first two technologies (Building Management System and Data Center Infrastructure Management) aim to monitor and control an entire facility or campus, including critical power, while the third (Critical Power Management System) is dedicated to controlling only critical power generation and distribution systems. What are you using at your data center to achieve your goals?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Corporate Culture of Innovation takes many forms

These days, more and more companies encourage a corporate culture that embraces innovation. Today’s forward-thinking companies support innovation in a number of ways. They can acquire innovative technology by purchasing start-ups with products in development or at idea stage but that lack the resources to take the products to market. They can introduce and fund initiatives within their existing infrastructure and among existing employees, even hiring an “innovator-in-chief” to take the helm. They can ally with other companies in joint enterprises to incubate ideas for new products and/or services. And they can take advantage of innovative ways to share technical information that would be helpful to their customers and others. 

What does it take to get started? One answer is commitment from the top down. A study by Accenture of 519 companies in over a dozen industry sectors in the U.S., France, and the U.K., found that 43% of businesses that have institutionalized formal innovation management systems are very satisfied with idea generation abilities compared to 24% of those companies that do not have that type of system in place. Perhaps more importantly, they are twice as likely to introduce a new business model or process (32% rather than 16%). The same study found that over half (51%) of participating companies had increased funding for innovation and that 70% of executives put innovation as one of the top five company priorities.

Below are examples of how several companies describe or promote their innovation efforts.

Cisco (http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac79/innov/index.html), a multinational technology company that makes networking equipment and sees innovation as “everyone’s job” has an Innovation Academy where teams of employees are encouraged to brainstorm new ideas and be on the lookup for new development opportunities. As the company explains it, it is a cross-functional enablement program with personnel from different functions working together to address business opportunities in new ways so there are always new ideas to leverage. The program, in essence, formalizes a structure to go outside normal day-to-day jobs.

ASCO Power Technologies, a division of Emerson Network Power (www.emersonnetworkpower.com), a world-wide electrical manufacturer that provides integrated infrastructure solutions that help ensure availability and efficiency of power for data centers, telecom networks, and industrial facilities, has, over the past 90 years, pioneered numerous major product innovations in power transfer technology, including automatic and non-automatic power transfer switches. The company has introduced several significant precision switching technologies and power transfer advancements that, even today, are industry benchmarks, with its controls facilitating operation with Web-enabled communications and digital user interfaces. Six years ago, it launched ASCO Power University, an educational and informational website  (www.ascoapu.comthat shares news, technical information and insights on trends and other issues of interest to engineers, facility managers, and others about the technology and applications of power switching and control. The site offers e-learning videos, articles, case studies, white papers, and “industry perspectives” on topics that relate to monitoring and optimizing power reliability at facilities where reliable power is critical. 

Philips (www.philips.com), a diversified technology company well known in areas of healthcare, consumer lifestyle, and lighting, is very keen on innovation as a corporate strategy. According to the company website, Philips Group Innovation, led by a Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, “leverages company-wide synergies in technology, IP, research, design, shared competencies and laboratories to bring innovations to the market faster and more effectively.” The Group “feeds the innovation pipeline,” enabling its business partners (the three Philips operating sectors and external companies) to “create new business options.” Philips also has a website portal (www.SimplyInnovate.philips.com)   that invites people outside the company to bring their own idea, technology, component for a new product, or improvement to an existing product to Philips for consideration.

3M (http://solutions.3m.com/innovation/en_UShas a stated culture of innovation. The company self-identifies on its website as a “global innovation company that never stops inventing and notes that for more than a century, “innovation has been the hallmark” of its growth, “reflecting a culture of shared ideas and technology.” The company has long encouraged employees to spend a significant part of their work day on projects and research that is outside their core responsibilities. From that “tinkering,” the company notes, have come many innovative products, including Scotch® Brand Tapes (1925), Post-it® Notes (1980), and, this year, transdermal components, Scotchpak white backings and liners silicon adhesive systems that offer high visibility for transdermal and dermal drug delivery systems.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"It's not going to happen to me!"

“It’s not going to happen to me! I’ve been here for years and we never lost utility power. I turn the backup generator on an off once in a while and that’s enough. I’m not spending money on a load test and the fuel to run the test” All too often this mindset leads to tenants or clients who are rightly upset when the “it can’t happen here” happens and the backup generator doesn’t function when called upon. The cost of periodic load testing and proper maintenance pales in comparison to possible business losses from power outages. Even after extensive press coverage of power outages from hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, floods and utility problems, most facility owners and managers wait until it happens the first time to take load testing of the backup generator testing seriously.      

Monday, March 30, 2015

How much would you value predictive capability of future surges?

If you could install a device in your facility that monitors surges and other power anomalies and allows you to trend the characteristics to hopefully prevent and - even more importantly - predict a surge, would you install it in all your critical pieces of electrical equipment?  Or would you install this predictive capability selectively?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Value of detecting trends in power anomalies and surge events?

Electronic components are very sensitive to power anomalies and surge events can put the electronic equipment at a facility and, consequently, a facility, itself, at risk.


The ability to detect trends in the occurrence of abnormal power quality events through real time power quality measurements and date- and time-logged events could be very helpful to management in detecting and analyzing trends and, from that knowledge, addressing potential power quality problems before they occur. If you had access to this type of sleuthing, would you put it into place and use it? And whose responsibility would it be to determine how to respond?


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Differences among a BMS, DCIM and a CPMS

Do you know the differences among a BMS, DCIM, and a CPMS? Though there are similarities, the differences are important to consulting engineers, contractors, building owners and facility executives at data centers. Though each is designed to improve efficiency and operational reliability, lower costs, and enhance worker safety, one technology may be a lot better suited for a given application than another. The first two technologies (Building Management System and Data Center Infrastructure Management) aim to monitor and control an entire facility or campus, including critical power, while the third (Critical Power Management System) is dedicated to controlling only critical power generation and distribution systems. What are you using at your data center to achieve your goals?

Would the primary causes of unplanned power outtages at a data center suprise you

Primary root causes of unplanned power outages at data centers include UPS system failure (battery); human error or accident; water, heat or CRAC failure; generator failure; weather; IT equipment failure. The unplanned outages cost the data centers $$$ in several categories, including business disruption, loss of revenue, reduction of end-user productivity and, to lesser but still notable impact, IT productivity, detection, and recovery. Interestingly, though failure of IT equipment accounted for about 5% of primary causes, the IT failures were responsible for highest overall cost.