Electronics Protection - Spring 2015 - (Page 8)

Feature Don't Forget the Batteries! Neglecting UPS Battery Maintenance is a Common and Costly Mistake Scott Baer, Marketing Manager-Batteries Emerson Network Power, Liebert Services Today's data center managers are well aware of the cost of unplanned downtime due to failure of the uninterruptible power supply (UPS). They know their jobs depend on ensuring availability. That's why most data center managers invest in regular assessment or preventive maintenance for the UPS, which sustains operations when power outages occur. Yet, all too often, managers fail to give the batteries that support the UPS the same level of attention. Such an oversight comes at a high price. The Ponemon Institute's 2013 Study on Data Center Outages found that UPS battery failure was the leading root cause of unplanned downtime. In reality, a UPS is only as reliable as the batteries that support it. Neglecting the maintenance and protection of those batteries is tantamount to neglecting the maintenance of the UPS itself. The Problem with Batteries Batteries are the simplest component in a UPS system. What's more, they come with a manufacturer-specified design life and published performance baselines, which can give data center managers the impression that the batteries will last for a decade or more. As a result, batteries are often set up and then ignored, with no preventive maintenance or testing throughout the life cycle. As the Ponemon study and a recent Emerson Network Power analysis of down units clearly demonstrates, such practices lead directly to costly battery failures and unplanned downtime. True Service Life Part of the problem is misunderstanding the difference between battery design life and battery service life. Battery design life is based on design and battery aging under controlled conditions in the manufacturer's laboratory - conditions that rarely, if ever, occur in the field. Actual battery service life considers how application, installation design, real world operating conditions, and maintenance practices impact battery aging. In general, the service life is almost always significantly shorter than the design life. Batteries can fail in less than half the time stipulated by the manufacturer design life due to a variety of issues, including incoming power faults, manufacturing defects, improper room temperatures, and overcharging. Additionally, a recent Emerson study on real-world results of valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries in the UPS environment revealed that battery service life varies far too much to rely on manufacturer's initial resistance baseline data. In fact, Emerson found that when a specific unit settled to its running baseline, the initial variance from the manufacturer's baseline was as much as 25 percent. Weakest Link in the Power Chain Yet another problem with batteries is that, just like old holiday lights, it only takes one bad cell in a string to compromise the entire backup power system, potentially leaving an organization without protection in the event of a power outage. Adding a second, redundant battery string offers some additional protection, but it doesn't eliminate the risk. If one string has a bad battery and there is a bad connection between the strings, the load can still be dropped. 8 Spring 2015 * www.ElectronicsProtectionMagazine.com No Excuse for Downtime The average cost per downtime incident due to UPS failure is nearly $680,000 when considering both the direct and indirect costs, including damage to mission-critical assets, the negative impact on productivity, remediation, legal and regulatory costs, and lost customer confidence. Given the price and an increasing expectation for 24/7 availability, unplanned downtime is unacceptable. When downtime does occur, business leaders will turn to those responsible for data center operations for an explanation. Ignorance regarding battery degradation or the true service life of batteries is no longer an acceptable excuse. Today's data center managers must understand that UPS batteries are life-limited components that they can't afford to overlook. As the heartbeat that supports mission critical facilities, batteries have a direct impact on availability and overall business success, and they demand attention and protection. Developing a UPS Battery Maintenance Program A thorough battery maintenance program is one of the most effective ways to prevent outages and downtime related to battery failure. The investment in such a program is almost always significantly less than what an organization would incur during a lengthy outage. For data center managers, the program is worth the peace of mind knowing that their UPS, their business critical operations, and their jobs are protected. Start with the Standards Facilities looking to establish a battery maintenance program should start by considering the schedules for maintenance checks provided by UPS battery manufacturers. In addition, organizations such as the IEEE publish maintenance standards. IEEE has the most well known standards regarding UPS battery maintenance practices. In fact, battery manufacturers often cite the standards and require adherence in order to maintain a valid product warranty. IEEE standards provide recommended practices for maintenance, testing, and replacement of batteries for stationary applications. They address the frequency and type of measurements needed to validate battery condition. Go Above and Beyond Minimum Requirements Best practices for battery testing and maintenance often go beyond minimum regulatory requirements. While regular preventive maintenance visits and visual battery inspections go a long way toward protecting the battery system and increasing mean time between failures (MTBF), such an approach does not allow for battery oversight outside of the periodic visits. If external factors lead to a shorter service life than what the data center manager expects, there is still a significant risk of battery failure. To optimize system performance, improve availability and ensure that emergency power systems are ready when needed, Emerson Network Power recommends an approach to mitigating battery risk that includes battery monitoring and remote services. http://www.ElectronicsProtectionMagazine.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronics Protection - Spring 2015

Editor's Choice
Predictive Modeling: The Next Frontier in Data Center Condition Maintenance
Don't Forget the Batteries
Military Aircraft Power
Pumped Two Phase Cooling Solutions for Challenging Thermal Management Applications
Identifying the Ideal Mechanical PCB Hardware for Electronic Systems
Bridging the Technology Gap: The Importance of Cyber and Physical Security within the Data Center
Waterproof Mobile Device Protection without Compromising Acoustic Quality
Enclosures
Thermal
EMI/EMC/RFI
Power
Hardware
Contamination
Industry News

Electronics Protection - Spring 2015

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