Power Distribution and Management

Reflecting on the Biggest Topics of 2019: Industrial UPSs and Edge Data Centers

As we near the end of 2019 (and, incredibly, the decade), it’s a good time to look back at the year and take stock of which topics most resonated with our readers in the commercial and industrial sector. In a nutshell, two topics dominated: industrial UPSs and industrial edge data centers.

Our four most popular posts of the year all centered on industrial uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs), covering topics including how to choose a UPS that best meets your needs and why they’re so important. At the same time, readers were also interested in industrial edge data centers and how they can help address applications including artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and video analytics while improving IT resiliency and reducing time to market.

industrial UPS and industrial edge applications

Industrial UPS topics resonate

Interest in industrial UPSs underlies the reality that, more than ever, commercial and industrial businesses have come to rely on the availability of safe, reliable power to run their businesses. As our post on how industrial UPSs represent opportunity for electrical contractors made clear, UPSs are important for at least four applications:

  • Business process continuity, meaning the systems required to keep the business operating, including machinery on a production line
  • Safety and security systems
  • Heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems
  • Data and smart business applications, including IT systems

The point of the blog post was to highlight that there are many applications that may not immediately be top of mind in terms of warranting industrial UPS protection, but that need to be considered given their importance to the business.

UPS eguideOther blog posts focused on the need for reliable power in specific vertical industries, including transportation. Airports, railway and subway systems, seaports and road tunnels all have applications that are crucial to passenger safety, security, comfort and convenience. They include signaling systems, emergency lighting, parking, CCTV cameras, fire alarms and medical aid stations.

The trend toward digital transformation that nearly all industries are undergoing also drives the need for industrial UPSs. “As transportation companies look to digitize and integrate their various systems, it’s all the more important that they maintain near 100% availability of power. Should any link in the chain fail, it could disrupt the entire operation,” the transportation-focused post said.

Lithium-ion batteries were another recurring theme in 2019, as they are increasingly being used in industrial UPSs because they provide a number of benefits as compared to traditional valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries. Li-ion batteries have a life of about 10 years vs. 3 to 5 years for VRLA batteries, they’re far lighter and smaller and have a built-in battery management system, as described in this post.

Industrial edge comes to the fore

It’s also clear that in 2019 there’s increasing activity at the industrial edge. A post from January makes clear why, noting the rise of technologies such as AI, AR and video analytics in the commercial and industrial sectors.

AI, for example, can be used to identify risks, including security risks, as well as business opportunities. It can also be used to support predictive maintenance applications that can dramatically reduce maintenance costs while boosting production uptime.

AR enables new ways to maintain physical assets and train new employees. Video analytics can be used in industries such as manufacturing to help increase throughput, reduce energy consumption, and improve product quality.

All of these applications require significant computing power as well as low latency, which means they can’t rely on remote, cloud-based data centers. Rather, they need local compute power, which is why there’s so much interest in industrial edge data centers.

Industrial edge data centers are small, even micro data centers, located within commercial and industrial buildings. As such, they often require purpose-built enclosures to protect them from sometimes harsh surroundings, such as in a factory, and to secure them from unauthorized access.

The industrial edge also supports emerging applications such as autonomous vehicles, as our post on automakers and the industrial edge made clear. “In 5 to 10 years, it’s likely we’ll have autonomous cars all around us, even in cities. These cars will require reliable connections to surrounding infrastructure, including streetlights and other cars,” the post said.

On to 2020 Outlook

As we move on to 2020, I expect interest in industrial UPSs and the industrial edge to remain high. As companies continue on their digital transformation journeys, they will be relying more and more on systems that require secure, reliable power – which means they warrant industrial UPS protection.

At the same time, we are still in the early days of technologies including AR, VR, and video analytics. As commercial and industrial companies continue to embrace these technologies, it will only drive the need for more industrial edge data centers.

To learn more about these important trends, visit our industrial business continuity web page, where you’ll also find reference guides and more. To find an industrial UPS that’s a fit for your applications, try our Secure Power Industrial Selector. And our micro data center page will bring you up to speed on some industrial edge data center options.

Best of luck with your business efforts in 2020. Although with proper preparation, you won’t need luck.


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