UPS for Manufacturing Applications : Is it the right decision?

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Manufacturing over the years is undergoing massive changes. More and more markets are opening up, labour costs are going up very fast in developing countries and at the other hand unemployement is at record high in the developed world. Further, the balance of market is shifting towards Asia.

The Developing world, where the majority of future growth is expected to come from is facing challenges that are very different than those experienced by the developed economies. 

For one, these plants are comparatively new, utilize newer technologies and are generally deploying technologies that are knowledge intensive, use global vendors as well as customers. Use mass customization’s and are supposed to be geared up for short product development cycles. This mean deploying automated and flexible manufacturing processes and being globally competitive. However, the quality of power and more importantly its continuous availability are challenges that manufacturers have to face.

A single power quality event leads to :-

– Stoppage of production
– Loss of production + Man hour due to time required to restart the automated process, cleaning of assembly line , removal of wastages, and bringing back the production to full speed again
– Effects on quality of parts that were in production at the time of power failure. these may be out-rightly rejected or in some cases need to go through recycling.
– Higher wear and tear of automated machinery, thereby increasing downtime (Read production losses) as well as maintenance costs.

There are multiple power quality solutions from the one that solves a single power quality issue to those providing nearly complete protection. These include surge suppressors, Voltage stabilizers, isolation transformers, to a UPS system. A UPS system offers nearly perfect and reliable power protection and is a cure for power quality issues faced by the Manufacturing industries.

However, there are concerns that the UPS systems may not be able to handle inrush demands for motors, robotics, drives, etc.,the operational costs of the UPS systems are another concern area. But the biggest concern is to do with managing the change.

The UPS technologies have evolved over the time and there are specialized products every manufacturer has to cater to the concerns of Industrial UPS Buyer. These include :- Capability to operate at higher temperatures, Inbuilt dust filters, High inrush handling capabilities and modular architectures. The new technologies available also promises very low losses thereby cutting down the operational costs.

However, in spite of the many advantages a UPS can offer, many industries continue to run the entire plant on DG sets, continuously. This indeed takes care of the power quality issues, needs to be prime rated,further, the cost of operation of a DG is almost twice , if not more than the cost of operating on utility supply. This eats away into the profitability of industries in this age of hyper competition.

So, what’s the solution……

I believe that the best solution is to use a combination of DG and a UPS systems. This way industries can run on utility supplies and can run the DG only in case of power failure. This way the DG operation can be bought down by more than 90% (depending upon the no. of power failures). At the same time ensuring continuity of clean and uninterrupted power for the entire plant. Now the DG’s can be of standby rating and operational costs can come down in a big way.

Today more and more industries including from F&B, semiconductor, automobiles, plastics and packaging, FMCG to Textiles, Steel industries, newspaper printing etc., are moving away from running the facility on Generator to a combination of Generator & UPS. This enables them to save lot of energy cost and provides power solutions that deal with Power Availability & Power Quality
I invite you to take your first step towards achieving energy efficiency.

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