All about UPS Systems and maintenance.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems are typically the first line of defence that is in place to protect your critical load equipment. They constantly take the incoming mains power complete with spikes and surges and perfectly stabilise a clean stable power output.
Planning and significant investment go into getting the correct UPS installed as part of a power protection solution and even business continuity planning. When your UPS is working correctly, you will forget it is there. But should you?
Once a UPS is installed it can sometimes be left until its next alarms before giving it a second thought. With UPS becoming a commodity item some manufacturers now start to charge a premium for ongoing service and “maintenance”. But what exactly is entailed in that “maintenance”? Do I even need it maintained?
A UPS is an electrical device with electronics enclosed in a metal or plastic box. With exception of the cooling fan there are no other mechanical moving parts. So what could possibly require maintenance? To answer your question, very little “maintenance". There is very little “maintenance” that can even be performed on a visit from an engineer to a UPS unless they are specifically replacing old aged parts. So, why do I need an agreement or contract?
When it comes to the cooling fans, they can be taken out and cleaned or greased. The rest of the unit is designed around electronic devices controlled by Digital Signal Proccessors (DSP). These electronic switches have a design life and will eventually wear out and fail when used for long enough in the wrong conditions or environment. What happens when they fail? Well, they will most likely go short circuit, which will result in one of the loudest bangs you will ever hear then some smoke will come from the unit which may set off any fire suppression present. What follows (after the fire brigade) is a long investigation into what happened from various specialists, consultants, engineers and worried managers. If you are at this stage then we are here to help so don't wait and get in contact now!
These devices are designed to run for up to twenty years, but only under the environmental conditions and loading limits they were designed and manufactured for so do check the specs before purchase.
The majority of the time spent on a UPS engineers service visit as part of a service agreement or contract involves checks on the UPS making sure that it is operating in the correct environment under the correct load and isn’t being damaged by any external factors. Some of these checks can and are completed daily by the user. From checking the temperature of the UPS room, safe output loading of the UPS, even for the adventurous the use of the inbuilt battery testing function while following the basics of keeping the UPS area free from dust, moisture and the classic clutter or cups of tea (Yes all too often UPS units can make handy shelves)!
Engineers check that it has been looked after through the correct switching procedure and safely shut down the UPS, whilst maintaining critical load through the bypass line, the UPS engineer can then undergo a detailed visual check of all components and connections can be checked then tightened if necessary, any signs of corrosion can be noted and excess dust deposits can be removed should the environment be harsh. The DC & AC capacitors, IGBT devices and batteries will be visually inspected for signs of budging, leakage or overheating – all are signs that the components may be failing (or approaching that Bang scenario) doing all this will make sure you never have to experience it.
Finally, firmware, depending on the age cycle of your UPS it may have a newly updated version of firmware for control of the electronics. Only an experienced and trained UPS engineer should attempt this. New firmware is vital to prevent you from experiencing unexpected events (BANG, SMOKE), which unfortunately other users of the same product may have already reported. An upgrade protects you so well worth insisting upon.
Whilst a user will be able to clearly see any current alarms on the UPS you may not actually be able to identify the problem or know what to do next. Usually, it is only the UPS engineer that is able to download and analyse detailed history logs of conditions the UPS has been subjected to and how it has behaved since installation (or the last service visit). This is all vital information for predicting how long components such as capacitors and batteries will work live for.
All of the findings from a service visit will be communicated to you clearly and well explained, You can then make decisions or ask for assistance or ask recommendations from our engineers.