The State of Secure Power: It Comes Down to Mitigating Specific Risks in Specific Sectors

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Secure power—which can be defined as power protection for business-critical equipment—is a challenge that is met by mitigating specific risks in specific applications.

Unlike a mainstream information technology (IT) trend like cloud computing with fairly “horizontal” characteristics, success with secure power is industry-specific, and also asset & environment specific. User companies also need the appropriate level of power protection and cooling, in keeping with the criticality of their assets.

This need to protect business-critical equipment is the mission of the Secure Power Systems for Industry and Infrastructure, an application area within Schneider Electric’s IT business unit. Since the organization’s creation in 2011, we’ve made progress in putting forth solutions that protect mission-critical equipment across multiple industries, while also supporting better energy management of these assets.

Going forward, Secure Power Systems will be placing an even greater focus on protecting specific equipment assets in specific industries. For example, industries such as health care, water/waste water treatment, and railway/subway systems are among the key verticals in need of secure power. These segments are found across the globe, and each has various types of equipment, systems, or infrastructure that need protection.

In the railway and transportation market, for example, we have digital signaling systems that need always-on power, and systems that monitor various aspects of operation, such as lighting for tunnels or speed monitoring for trains. Obviously, signaling or speed monitoring systems for railways are safety-critical—they require the highest degree of availability, backed up by uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that is always online and has a high degree of redundancy.

But there is a range of equipment types to protect, so customers need help identifying the most efficient solutions. For example, in the transportation sector, it would be overkill to apply the same power protection to a ticket vending machine as you do to a signaling system.

The public as well as some people in business don’t stop to think about the reliability of critical equipment until a tragic accident or mishap occurs. In the wake of tragic events such as a deadly passenger railway accident in Spain last year, we see more attention paid to safety issues, such a wider deployment of the European Train Control System, or “ETCS.”

Likewise, incidents in the marine industry such as the cruise ships which have lost power or run aground, remind us of the need to better mitigate risks. Secure power for mission-critical assets should be part of this thought process.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that every possible risk can be mitigated, or that disasters like hurricanes won’t cause disruptions, but we have to be prepared in every way possible to either eliminate risk or minimize the consequences. Many managers in industry are aware of these secure power needs, but typically need help in identifying and deploying solutions that are appropriate for the asset in question, that meet local regulations, and that can be monitored for energy efficiency.

In health care, for example, there may be country-specific regulations which govern electrical requirements for operating theaters. At the same time, health care providers are using more digitized imaging and diagnostic equipment which needs power protection to avoid costly downtime or loss of patient data. Finally, health care organizations not only want to protect these digitized assets, they want a better way of managing energy for them and linking them with systems such as building automation.

To accomplish all this, health care organizations need a secure power partner who knows their industry, knows the regulations, possesses deep expertise in power protection and cooling, as well as expertise in other domains such as building automation and electrical systems. To find out more about our secure power approach in healthcare, take a look at this brochure, which digs down into the UPSs suited for specific assets.

Going forward, we’ll be more focused than ever in addressing secure power needs by vertical industries including health care, water treatment, transportation, marine, oil & gas, marine, semiconductor, and utilities. As we progress into 2014, also expect to see more discussion on how secure power relates to the issues of disaster recovery and cyber-security security in key vertical segments.

To find out more about secure power, visit this Web page, or contact your Schneider Electric representative.

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