Various subject matter experts at Schneider Electric write a lot of blog posts in the course of a year, so as 2016 comes to an end it’s a good time to look back and see which topics most resonated with readers. In terms of the posts published by the Industrial Power group, it’s clear that the topic of business continuity reigned supreme.
That certainly makes sense given that downtime is anathema to customers in the industrial space. But business continuity goes beyond merely ensuring the power stays on and machines keep humming.
That was clear from our most popular post of the year, Christian Bertrand’s piece titled, “Why You Need a Power Failure Response Strategy.” The post challenges readers to think more broadly about what happens during a power failure in order to come up with an effective strategy for dealing with it. I thought this piece of advice was particularly insightful: “Finally, as you build your strategy, think about how people are going to behave in the various circumstances you predict. While a lot of emergency procedures and processes can be automated at a machine level, unless you’re running a complete lights-out facility, people are going to need to be involved in your power failure response strategy.”
People, of course, will behave differently according to the situations they’re in.
He encourages companies to come up with emergency response plans and then practice them. That’s a step I’m willing to bet many companies don’t take, which means the first time they try to implement the plan is in the face of an emergency. Not good.
Don Strickland’s “5 Keys to Selecting a UPS that Will Ensure Business Continuity for Critical Industrial Applications” also resonated with readers. Readers love it when an expert can boil down a rather complicated topic to just a few quick points. Strickland does just that, pointing out the key aspects to look for in terms of environmental factors, load profile, energy efficiency, and network integration (and security). He also lists some good questions to ask to ensure your UPS vendor can stand behind its product, namely these: “How fast can they respond in case of an emergency – and to the exact location that you require? Ask, too, about the range of options available in terms of accessories, including those from third party partners. Extensive safety features are another sign of an experienced UPS vendor, including back feed protection and dead front panels. Multiple energy storage options are also a plus, including not just traditional valve-regulated lead-acid batteries (VRLA) but newer lithium ion batteries, which promise longer life and the same power in a smaller footprint compared to VRLA.”
Serge Bernard’s post, “3 Key Steps to Maximizing Uptime for Mission Critical Systems,” is another good example of boiling down a complex topic to digestible bites. The post covers how to ensure uptime for critical systems in the event of a prolonged power outage. He advises readers to conduct a thorough assessment of which systems need to be kept alive, consider regulatory requirements, and to determine how much runtime they’ll need for various systems. As is the case with many Schneider Electric blog posts, he also points readers to valuable sources of additional information, including the free white paper, “Maximizing Uptime in Mission Critical Facilities.”
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) was all the rage in 2016 so it’s no surprise that Daniel McGinn’s post, “How to Provide Power Protection in an Industrial Internet of Things Environment,” was popular with readers. The post essentially delivered good news by informing readers they probably don’t need to provide backup power to every single sensor in an IIoT environment. As McGinn writes: “With respect to the IIoT, it is [the] control network and associated intelligent data gathering elements that we are really concerned about protecting. The good news is that this constitutes a much lower level of power compared to the main process power, which makes protecting it with UPS systems far more feasible and worthwhile from a return on investment perspective.”
I could go on and on but I’ll leave you with just one more popular post that I thought hit on an important topic, Jeffrey Paquette’s “Predictive Maintenance: A More Strategic Approach to Ensuring UPS Availability.” Drawing on his many years of industry experience, Paquette makes the case that many companies buy expensive equipment, but fail to get the full value from it because they skimp on maintenance. The issue can really come to a head when applied to a UPS that is supposed to provide power protection for an important piece of equipment. Paquette urges readers to consider the consequences if the UPS fails.
He points out that the most strategic way to avoid such a fate is to implement a predictive maintenance plan, one that takes advantage of all the diagnostic information that today’s UPSs produce about their own health. As he writes: “Using tools that collect and analyze this data, you can now predict when a component really is in danger of failing because it’s showing characteristics that are out of the ordinary. Then you can take steps to remedy the situation. It’s a more strategic approach because you’re fixing a real, known problem, not (potentially) wasting money by replacing components just because a schedule says you should.”
Those are some of my choices for the top blog posts of 2016. Did I miss any topics that you thought were important in the past year? Or are there any you’d like to see the Industrial Power group cover in the year ahead? Let us know in the comments below.