- Construction engineer, U.S. Dept. of State »
- Facilities Utility Specialist »
- DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE FACILITIES »
- Operating Engineer »
- Director of Facilities and Fleet Management »
Technology Powers Bottom-Line Benefits
Facilities require a clean, reliable power source. The problem is, power systems in most facilities are anything but clean and reliable. Brownouts, blackouts, voltage sags, voltage spikes, and high levels of harmonics interfere with the operation of sensitive computer and electronic equipment, including computer systems, telecommunications equipment, and building control systems. Fortunately, a new generation of power-management tools is giving managers the ability to clean up their power systems and providing a powerful tool for managing power use.
New-generation surge suppressors, voltage regulators, power conditioners and isolation transformers give technicians effective tools to eliminate many common power problems that occur over utility power lines or that are generated within the facility itself. These units can protect individual pieces of sensitive equipment, as well as portions of or the entire facility.
Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) have increased and decreased in capacity. New lower-cost, lower-power units can supply reliable power to equipment ranging from individual computers to small telecommunications systems. Managers can specify larger units to provide clean, uninterrupted power to banks of servers, for example.
Several new-generation models are scalable, allowing managers to closely match system capacity to needs, while allowing systems to expand as needs increase without having to replace the existing system.
A range of standby-power systems, UPS and standby generators can power individual systems or entire buildings and provide reliable power during prolonged brownouts or blackouts. But today’s generators can do more than just provide power during outages. These systems can run in parallel with utility power for short or extended periods.
These systems help managers take advantage of utility pricing programs that reduce rates for customers who shed portions of their electrical load during peak-use periods.
Besides cleaning up power, power-management equipment can help managers control the use of electrical energy, from metering and sub-metering to facility-wide control. The systems can monitor the quantity of power used and its quality, alerting operators when system use is approaching pre-established limits or when power quality has deteriorated to the point where it could damage sensitive electronic equipment.
New-generation power-management equipment can help diagnose problems when outages occur. By constantly monitoring components, the systems can identify the location and extent of a fault within a distribution system, decreasing response time.
— James Piper, P.E., is a national facilities management consultant based in Bowie, Md.