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Simply providing an uninterruptible power system (UPS) or other backup power supplies does not necessarily ensure an institutional or commercial facility's equipment is protected from power-supply fluctuations and distortions. Maintenance and engineering managers must factor in regular testing and maintenance of a facility's backup power supplies - including a UPS and generators - to ensure they remain in peak operating condition, protect critical systems, and operate as designed.
By fully understanding the role of a UPS, required maintenance procedures, and the diagnostic tools to keep a UPS running, managers will be better able to develop a preventive maintenance (PM) strategy that meets an organization's needs for backup power supplies.
A UPS is essentially a series of batteries that maintains power to critical pieces of equipment that cannot withstand a power interruption. A UPS protects equipment from such elements as power interruptions, voltage variations, frequency variations and transient disturbances.
As technology advances, more pieces of equipment require uninterruptible power, making a reliable UPS increasingly crucial in any facility. Upon losing utility power to a facility, it often can take 10 seconds or more for backup power supplies to start and allow power to transfer to the emergency source. Most electronic equipment will not tolerate more than a few cycles of power disruption without shutting down.
Minimizing disruptions to the power source starts during the system's design phase. A reliable power system depends on quality equipment and reliable design. A facility's UPS should be able to protect critical and high-tech equipment and facilitate planned power outages so technicians can perform maintenance.
Perhaps the key factor in keeping a facility up and running is a
thorough preventive maintenance program and a risk-management approach
to ensure critical services are available when needed.