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August 7, 2008 - Power & Communication
Pace University is one of the largest universities in New York, and its data center houses mission-critical servers, mainframe computing capabilities, and networking and telephone applications. The data center supports all of the instructional, administrative and student body information-technology needs, which means students and faculty rely on its servers being operational 24-7.
When the worst-case scenario happened and the data center went down, Peter McIntyre, Pace’s director of maintenance operations, called Emerson Network Power. Within four hours after placing the call to Emerson, a Liebert service technician was on site. When the technician arrived, he immediately noticed smoke in the data center. Upon initial inspection of the data center’s nine-year-old uninterruptible power supply (UPS), he discovered its direct-current capacitors had exploded, taking out the power poles and scorching the wiring.
“The maintenance on the unit was up to date,” says Robert Tudisco, New York district manager for Emerson Network Power. “It appeared that the issue was a result of age. The capacitor was near the end of its life expectancy. This sort of thing does not happen often, but when the capacitors do fail, they fail forcefully.”
Upon closer inspection, the technicians soon realized they were going to need to replace about two-thirds of the main power components of the unit, including a power pole, transistors, capacitors, circuit boards, additional wires, cables and bus bars. A few of the large, permanently installed pieces of equipment technicians could not switch out also needed repair.
“Basically, within four hours after arriving on site, we had diagnosed the specific problem, conducted a full overview of the unit and its damaged components, and placed orders for the needed parts,” Tudisco says.
During the entire process, Tudisco and the technicians conferred regularly with McIntyre.
“There was never any time when I did not know exactly what was happening and what our status was,” McIntyre says. “This is important, especially when facing a looming deadline that, if not met, would cause significant problems for the university.”
Emerson Network Power had five technicians and three support personnel on site. From start to finish, it took only 36 hours to diagnosis the problem; order, find and obtain delivery of the needed parts; dismantle as much of the unit as possible; and rebuild and test it.
The technicians had enough time to follow standard procedure and slowly bring the unit back online at lower voltage levels and permit the new components to burn themselves in and work their way up. The technicians also allowed the new capacitor to become properly formed and charged before doing a complete restart and reapplying the load to the unit.
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