Secure Power Systems for critical applications is a broad concept that spans many types of power protection technologies and equipment. To meet the requirements of market, the Secure Power provider needs to have industry and technology expertise, offering equipment flexible enough to handle with special challenges that can be found in specific applications. Beyond this, fast and qualified maintenance services, and a complete infrastructure (local R&D, manufacturing, training, etc) ensures the safe operation of business.
For example, in the Brazilian market, where I am located, there are some challenges in meeting the Secure Power needs of industry, as there are different requirements for standard voltages and index of protection (IP). Some applications, such as Oil & Gas, Railway and Mining, Minerals, Metals (MMM), require a higher level of IP than standard uninterruptible power supply (UPS) equipment designed for IT use.
Regarding the voltage needs, in the south of Brazil the grid is 380 volts, in the center of the country it is usually 220 volts and in the north we have 380 voltage again. Beyond this, there are many segments in the Brazilian market that use imported equipment with different voltage needs (208V, 400V, 480V). A country or region that doesn’t have a standard voltage implies some particular challenges for Secure Power, because the equipment for power protection needs to be able to work with different voltages.
If equipment has a fixed voltage capability, to adapt it for a different range, you need to apply external components, specifically transformers, to the input (grid line) and in the output (load). The problem with adding transformers, however, is that it decrease performance, efficiency, and other electrical parameters. However, if a power protection equipment manufacturer thinks ahead and considers adaptable packaging and the transformer capability as a part of the equipment design, better performance and efficiency can be achieved, because the manufacturer has “built in” the flexibility to work with different IP and voltage standards.
As part of Schneider Electric’s solution for Secure Power, the product offer (e.g. UPS, inverters, rectifiers, voltage regulators) in Brazil include models which have input and output transformer components as part of the design. This equipment can be assembled in different packages, and can reach high IP levels as well. In summary, flexibility of the power protection equipment is very important in a market such as Brazil.
However, the flexibility for different voltage and IP are not the only challenges. The type of critical power protection varies widely by industry or type of application. In some applications, such a protection of PCs or office equipment, a low power online UPS solution may meet the protection requirements. However, in high power applications, there may be the need to use a redundant online UPS, protecting critical systems from power quality problems. But if you consider a voltage substation, some kinds of loads need uninterruptible DC voltage, requiring a different kind of solution, as found in industrial rectifiers. For Secure Power application, a broad range of options ensures the right solution choice for different critical processes.
In some respects, the challenges faced in the Brazilian market are unique compared to other regions that have standard electrical voltages from the grid, and where power quality is not a major issue. However, some challenges remain the same worldwide, such as the need of the Secure Power provider to have industry expertise as well as knowledge of electrical and power protection regulations in specific industry verticals. For example, in the Brazilian healthcare market, rather than using UPS to protect magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment, voltage regulators are recommended by manufacturers.
So to ensure protection and reliability in critical power applications, you need a provider with a broad range of solutions, flexible equipment, and specific knowledge for your application. Adaptable or customizable power protection equipment is important, but, ultimately, you also need to find a provider with the industry experience to meet your Secure Power needs.
To learn more about Secure Power challenges and solutions, please check out this brochure or this web page, and this Schneider Electric white paper provides good background information about the different types of available UPS systems.