Health checks aren’t just for patients. Power systems such as uninterruptible power supplies and standby generators succumb to wear and tear over time, which can cause power failure, power outages and business interruption should they not be suitably prepared for. Health checks can pick up on irregularities in your power systems – such as missing cable supports, missing bolts, unsafe grounding and dried out lubricants – and provide recommendations for next steps and resolution. But what exactly are health checks, and what benefits do they provide? In our latest blog, we discuss this, as well as why power system health checks are important.
Why Power System Health Checks Are Important
System health is at the core of your business, as lost revenue and negative customer experiences come with application, equipment or service downtime. Regular power system health checks and effective monitoring allows you to detect issues before they become full-fledged power outages. If you’re not focused on maintaining resilient power systems, you’re not focused on your business’s bottom line. System specialists and IT managers need to work together to proactively monitor and test systems and their dependencies from end-to-end, leading to more robust software and hardware.
It only takes one unexpected outage, be it the computers in your office, the manufacturing
process, or lights in the warehouse. Such power failures can have far-reaching consequences for companies and can become a very costly learning experience. Many of such outages are caused internally, within the system under your control and can be prevented. Preventive inspections and health checks can identify most, if not all, defects and deficiencies before they become a problem thereby saving you money on repairs and the indirect costs associated with loss of business.
What follows are some easy health checks that you can enact yourself, for the good of your staff, business, customers and clientele.
Health Check Up List
To avoid unexpected breakdowns, your UPS systems and generators need regular preventive maintenance to keep them in working order. The following checklist will help ensure your critical power equipment is functioning properly:
- Checking Battery Health
Batteries are the most common cause of UPS failure, so it’s important to:
- Note their age, as UPS batteries can last anywhere from 2 – 5 years. If your battery is 3 years or older, you should begin looking into, and planning, a replacement battery.
- Run a UPS battery self-test. Most network-class UPS systems have the capacity to run a quick self-check from their front menu.
- Check under the hood. Remove the front bezel and make sure there are no signs of battery swelling or damage.
- Have a battery maintenance visit from a trusted power solutions provider. Especially important for businesses with large centralised UPS systems, having an electrician or factory-authorised specialist test every individual battery can provide a much clearer picture of your system’s reliability.
- Perform An Early Spring Cleaning
Mess, dust and general disorganisation can cause unwanted issues and reduce system reliability, so be sure to:
- Check the airflow. Make sure there is nothing blocking the airflow in your IT environment, since heat is one of the biggest reducers of battery life. There should be enough airflow to keep your UPS at room temperature (25°C (77°F) is optimal). Furthermore, make sure there isn’t anything stacked on top of the UPS or generator that could cause damage or block the airflow.
- Wipe away dust. Caked-on grime can damage fans and cause electronics board damage, though an easy wipe down is often all you need to clear this away. If you have a larger centralised UPS, you may need to replace your air filter or give it a thorough clean.
- Verify UPS Communications
Correctly configured communications ensure that system managers can respond to alerts and take corrective action. To verify this, you can:
- Run a test email. If your UPS is equipped with a Network Interface Card (NIC), you can run a trial email. Please bear in mind that changing email servers or domains can cause settings to be out of date.
- Checking your software. Make sure the UPS and NIC both have the most up-to-date versions.
- Keep Service Information Up-To-Date
- Double-check your service contract. Review your warranty, coverage and consider storing the contract and related documents in one place, either physically or electronically.
- Register your product. If you do not have a service contract (and even if you do), make sure that your UPS and generator are registered with the manufacturer. This helps you to stay informed on updates, and allows the manufacturer to respond quickly should any issues arise.
These steps may seem simple, but they go a long way toward ensuring the ongoing reliability of your UPS and generator, and the critical power equipment and data they are there to protect.
Benefits Of Power System Health Checks
There are many benefits of power system health checks, and these include:
Reducing Power Failure & Downtime
How much would a loss of power cost your business? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? With your UPS system and generator playing such a vital role in the success of your business, a health check ensures that they are in good working condition, preventing power outages and stressful downtime. If your UPS systems go offline or fail to switch over to the UPS power backup generator, they could leave the very equipment they are designed to protect helpless. A health check, and scheduled UPS maintenance are fundamental to your operations.
Boosts Battery Health
Batteries – especially Valve Regulated Lead Acid batteries (VRLA) – operate in what is known as ‘float mode’. In float mode, the acid batteries send charge to ensure they maintain full charge. When the UPS needs the battery backup power supply in either frequent short cycles or infrequent long cycles, this results in the batteries being discharged. If discharges are often or deep, this will greatly reduce battery life. A battery health check is key for predicting its demise, so that battery replacements can be planned and prepared for.
Preventing Disruption To Business Operations
Highly confidential information and sensitive data held at data centres, or in your business’s own record systems could suffer from damaging lags or loss in the event of a power failure. What about the healthcare sector, where loss of power could result in loss of life? With power system health checks, you can ensure instant and continuous power and that an immediate switchover from your mains to your UPS is also achievable.
Along with minimising downtime for scheduled maintenance and helping to maintain a safe installation, there are many benefits that power system health checks provide.
Our Health Checks
An inspection of your UPS and generator will assess their condition and ability to perform as reliable backup systems. As power protection experts, we can conduct extensive health checks, and this can include:
- Understanding the technology in use and its effect on electricity usage and heat output.
- Distribution switchgear and associated conditioning.
- Checking component condition, such as batteries, fans which can suffer wear and tear, and capacitors, which can dry out.
- Existing maintenance plans can be reviewed to provide a like-for-like cost comparison and/or to make recommendations on how to improve response and repair times.
- Guidance and recommendations on how to improve your system resilience, optimise your power and energy management and reduce your total cost of ownership.
All health checks are an important part of any UPS and generator installation and ongoing maintenance programmes to ensure your systems are supported.
Need help with your own system health checks, or want to ensure that every check is conducted to the highest standards? Why not give Dale Power Solutions a call today on 0330 999 3000 for guided support and to organise training on health check processes that can improve your IT manager’s technical expertise. And should you want us to carry out a health check ourselves, we’d be happy too so let’s organise a site visit together.