Global power management expert, Socomec, is driving a stream of innovation to guarantee the performance of the new electrical ecosystem and has developed a disruptive new UPS solution that makes the latest advances in technology more accessible – and easier to deploy – than ever before.
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IT service company Tieto transforms a former military installation in a Swedish rock cave into a cutting-edge data center. To enable expansion for new customers and additional equipment, Tieto uses Roxtec cable and pipe seals.
Trasf Eco is a key partner in one of the biggest and most advanced datacentre project in Europe, developed by one of the top American companies in the cloud services market.
Centiel’s Uninterruptible Power Supplies protect patients at Musgrove Hospital
Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton is the home of Somerset Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (SNICU), a specialised ward for the treatment of premature and sick new-born babies within Somerset.
SNICU is situated in the maternity building of the hospital and divided into two different areas: intensive and special care. There are 18 cots in total.
Knight Electrical is a specialist contractor in power systems integration, undertaking generator controls and all forms of installation and site modification works. The company has contracts with various hospitals, manufacturing facilities, schools and government organisations for the design, installation and maintenance of electrical systems.
In 2018, Knight Electrical was contracted to design and build a UPS plant room to protect all the power for Musgrove Park Hospital’s SNICU unit which looks after babies requiring continuous monitoring of their breathing or heart rate, additional oxygen and tube feeding. The specialist unit also offers short term intensive care and recovery and convalescence from surgery.
The hospital required a space-saving and cost-effective solution to protect the critical power to this important ward which offered the highest levels of power availability and a 60-minute run time in the event of a power failure. In addition, the UPS needed to protect the power to the Maternity Theatre as well as future birthing pools.
Knight Electricals’ design took advantage of a piece of neglected land near the SNICU unit. However, instead of incurring the significant cost of a new building, Knight Electrical came up with the innovative idea to adapt and convert a 20-foot shipping container into a secure UPS plant room. This bespoke solution was designed specifically to meet the requirements of the hospital and to overcome the challenges presented to the team.
Andrew Winiarczyk Knight Electrical Contracts and Engineering Director commented: “We have been designing plant rooms for over 20 years, so are used to providing bespoke solutions for our clients, however, this is the first time that we have used this particular technique. Space was limited and this presented us with a real challenge, the shipping container proved the ideal solution as the entire plant room could fit into one 20-foot container.
“We modified the shipping container with insulation, boarded it and set it onto sturdy concrete foundations, slightly raised to remove the risk of flooding. We also looked at a glass reinforced plastic (GRP) building as an alternative but concerns over fire risk and moisture quickly ruled this out. The area around the unit was gravelled and fenced off and the result was a secure unit ready to house the UPS system to protect the hospital’s SNICU unit’s power.”
Centiel won the tender to supply 1 x CumulusPower Modular UPS 200kW N+1 with 60 minutes autonomy built into 250kW frame. Centiel supplied its 4thGeneration Modular UPS system: CumulusPower, with 9x 25kW intelligent modules, which allows space for the hospital to add an additional 25kW module in the future if/when the load demand increases.
CumulusPower is a three-phase, modular UPS which offers 99.9999999% (“9 nines”) system availability achieved through fully independent and self-isolating intelligent UPS modules – each with individual rectifiers, inverters, static bypass, CPU and communications logic and display.
The Intelligent Module Technology (IMT), with a fault-tolerant parallel Distributed Active Redundant Architecture (DARA), removes single points of failure to offer industry leading availability. In the unlikely event of a module failure, it can be quickly and safely be “hot-swapped” without transferring the load to bypass and raw mains.
In addition, CumulusPower has been designed to offer the highest levels of resilience and complete peace of mind. It can be maintained without the need to bypass to mains powerwhich means there is no risk of interruptions to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It has also been designed to reduce the total cost of ownership through low losses. The high double conversion efﬁciency of >97.1% at the module level means it is currently the best solution available to protect infrastructure as its configuration also reduces downtime risk, avoiding costly errors as well as increasing energy efficiency.
Stuart Cockburn, sales manager, Centiel UK, explained: “The main challenge with the installation was the compact size of the shipping container. The UPS weighs only about half a tonne but the amount of batteries needed to support the Hospital’s requirement of a 60-minute run time was significant and weighed around nine tonnes, so took up a fair proportion of the space available.
“We created a bespoke design for the battery racks optimising the configuration for ease of access and maintenance of both the UPS and batteries. We maximised use of the floor to ceiling space to create a workable area, ensuring there was enough room to allow for the rest of the equipment including DC isolation, bypass panel, UPS distribution panel and building management service (BMS) which all needed to be accessed readily for maintenance. The shipping container also needed to have room for air conditioning units plus emergency lighting.
Centiel supports the UPS with a comprehensive maintenance contract which guarantees a response within four hours, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Two preventative maintenance visits a year, 24-hour telephone support, free labour, travelling to site are included for full peace of mind.
Cockburn concluded: “The installation was completed in June 2019 and it will now protect the power for the patients at the important baby unit at Musgrove Park Hospital for many years to come.”
For further information please visit www.centiel.co.uk
As a service and maintenance engineer for leading uninterruptable power supply (UPS) manufacturer CENTIEL, life is never dull! I work with datacentres and organisations with UPS installations all over the UK. This requires liaising with facilities management teams on a daily basis for maintenance visits, site surveys, installations and emergency callouts.
On a typical day, I will normally have a maintenance call in the diary at some point. This can be for what we call a ‘minor’ maintenance visit or a ‘major’ maintenance visit. A minor maintenance is a visual six-monthly check over of the UPS equipment to make sure it’s all working correctly. I will also inspect the batteries which provide the back-up power to the UPS unit for signs of wear and tear and do a short battery test on-site.
For a major maintenance visit, I would complete a full inspection of the kit, including lifting the covers, checking the fans, capacitors, batteries, etc. If all is well, I would complete a switching test or a ‘mains discharge test’. This means I literally turn the power off to mimic a power outage to ensure the UPS switches over to battery power. I monitor the batteries during the discharge and re-charge to ensure they are performing optimally.
While the UPS is switched off, the site load is supported by the raw mains supply. Any mains interruptions while the UPS is on bypass, will directly affect the site load. Due to this, some customers prefer their ‘major’ maintenance visit to take place outside of normal working hours.
However, if their UPS system is set up in an N+1 configuration this redundancy means it is possible to switch the mains power off and remain protected allowing tests to be completed safely.
These tests allow me to make any necessary recommendations for any replacement parts or batteries. It’s really important to replace batteries before their end of life. We say ‘it’s better to replace one year early than a day too late’ as one faulty battery will bring down the whole string, which could cause power protection issues and end up being far more costly for the client.
Next, I’m out on the road again, often supporting our project management team, checking a new site ahead of an installation. Clients and facilities management teams can give us much of the information we need over the phone, but it is important to check access in person too. This is because we are often installing many tonnes of battery equipment and the UPS itself can weigh around half a tonne, so any access issues need to be addressed in advance.
For a recent pre-installation visit, I discovered a step into the comms room which had not been highlighted. This may seem like a small detail, however, knowing this ahead of the installation allowed me to build a ramp to ensure equipment could be delivered and therefore, avoiding delays during the install. A different pre-installation visit recently revealed a broken goods lift which was needed to move 16 tonnes of batteries between floors. Identifying this issue ahead of the installation allowed us to work with the client to provide an alternative solution.
Emergency call outs are the other part of my day. Such calls can happen at any time and often outside normal working hours! Although we manufacture and maintain CENTIEL’s UPS solutions which are renowned for their industry leading levels availability (9.99999999%) with just milliseconds downtime per year, we also look after third party manufacturers’ UPS systems on maintenance and service contracts too.
I was recently called to a major financial institution that had experienced a power outage which took out half the building for half a day. Power protection was supplied by a third-party manufacturer’s UPS which had failed due to a downstream power spike taking out some of the components. I needed to create a temporary power feed to get the system up and running again and the order replacement parts for a permanent fix.
I have to ‘plug’ CENTEIL’s CumulusPower UPS here, which is a ‘truly’ modular system, meaning if one component fails the other modules take over the load so there is no single point of failure and the power remains protected at all times.
Replacement of the modules takes just a matter of minutes. If a correctly configured CumulusPower had been installed at this particular financial institution, there would have been no downtime or disruption at all. Educating clients about the advantages upgrading to a more reliable and available UPS system which also results in a lower total cost of ownership is just part and parcel of the job!
For further information please visit www.centiel.co.uk
AVTECH noted for its wide range of robust and affordable monitors and sensors that help proactively monitor facilities to prevent environment-related downtime and damage
ER Interviewed Mike Elms, managing director at Centiel UK, sponsors of the Data Centre Design and Build Product of the Year award, to find out his unique insight into the UPS marketplace and why the company chose to sponsor this particular category.
WHY DID CENTIEL CHOOSE TO SPONSOR THE ER AWARDS IN 2020?
In 2019, Centiel was shortlisted for three ER Excellence Award categories: Power Project of the Year, Power Product of the Year and Energy Saving Project of the Year, and so we felt it was right to ‘put something back’ by sponsoring the Data Centre Build and Design Product of the Year award in 2020. Sponsorship offers a great platform for us to join Electrical Review in rewarding excellence, innovation and collaboration. The ER awards recognise projects that embrace the latest in electrical engineering, display forward-thinking design and implementation and champion the highest environmental, safety and energy efficiency standards which are values very close to our hearts. As manufacturers and trusted advisors in this sector, we were keen to be involved in rewarding innovation, particularly when it comes to reducing environmental impact wherever possible. In addition, this year was the first time that Data Centre Review magazine has been involved in the awards and this enabled an expanded range of categories including new awards for products and projects, opening up the floor to the data centre industry. We are looking forward to networking and making new contacts as well as hearing about and meeting the people behind the projects on the night.
WHAT MAKES AN OUTSTANDING PRODUCT IN YOUR VIEW?
Products need to respond to market demands by addressing specific needs and providing measurable benefits to users in a timely manner. Although as sponsors, we are not involved in judging, those solutions that have been designed with the highest environmental and therefore efficiency considerations in mind will certainly be rewarded.
WHAT IS CENTIEL’S HISTORY?
Centiel is a Swiss-based technology company designing, manufacturing and delivering industry-leading power protection solutions for critical facilities. The company’s range of class-leading, energy efficient, UPS systems offers the highest availability and reliability. Centiel’s network of channel partners and subsidiaries is rapidly expanding, providing class-leading power protection solutions worldwide. Although a relatively new company, Centiel’s team of designers have experience that covers the last four decades. We were responsible for the design of the world’s first three-phase transformerless UPS and the world’s first three-phase modular UPS. Centiel’s three-phase modular UPS solution CumulusPower has now been installed in data centres and comms rooms in over 60 countries across five continents, protecting more than 50 MW of critical power loads in locations including: the UK, Singapore, Australia, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic and now the Channel Islands.
WHAT CHANGES WITHIN THE UPS INDUSTRY HAVE YOU SEEN OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS?
In the 1980s UPS were huge, and relative to today were big, noisy, inefficient machines. A 60kVA UPS in 1988 weighed 700kg and was the size of a double wardrobe. Although they were very well engineered, they were at best only 80-85% efficient. No one talked about the need for energy efficiency back then. Certainly, the main driver for UPS design over the last 15 years has been efficiency; because of this, static UPS systems have now almost entirely migrated over to transformerless designs which reduce cost, weight, and improve efficiency. We have now also moved from mainframe to file server, to the cloud and now to edge computing. The rapid accumulation of data is driving change exponentially. All information is being logged. Most of it is useless but it needs to be stored somewhere. This will result in the continued growth in the data centre industry and the need for small edge data centres at our homes and offices in the future, to process and store the less important data while the critical information is sent to the cloud and the mega data centres.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CONSIDERATIONS WHEN IT COMES TO PURCHASING A UPS?
Organisations need to eliminate risks that may cause any potential downtime of business-critical applications. Availability is the key metric; data centres need to be available constantly, with zero downtime. Untold financial and reputational damage can result from unplanned downtime and therefore availability continues to be the major concern for data centre managers and those working in critical environments.
WHY IS AVAILABILITY SO IMPORTANT?
Data centres need the highest level of availability possible to ensure their customers can depend on access to data at all times. In other words: systems must be available every second of every day. The probability that a system is operating, as and when required, is the true definition of availability. Availability should not be confused with reliability. Reliability is an important and related factor in power protection design and is termed as: the probability that a system will not fail. For example: a UPS can be extremely reliable, but when a fault does occur, then the system can fail completely and lose load power or transfer to bypass, leaving the load vulnerable. A simple power cut could then compromise availability, leaving the data centre without critical power.
WHAT CHANGES DO YOU ANTICIPATE IN THE MARKET?
The move away from traditional lead acid battery as the primary energy store for the UPS will be a big change in the future. Li-ion has a number of benefits including: the ability to run at a higher temperature meaning that in many European locations this means cooling could, in future, be provided by the natural air temperature, if cooling is needed at all. This would result in significant savings on data centre running costs and reduced carbon footprints. Li-ion batteries also typically require less than half the physical space of the equivalent lead acid blocks and less than 25% of the weight. In addition, 10-year design life lead acid batteries are normally replaced every seven or eight years. With Li-ion this is 13-15 years.
HOW IS CENTIEL ADDRESSING ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES?
At Centiel we look at everything to reduce environmental impact by improving efficiency. This comes down to tiny aspects like the length of cables for example and investigating differing types of semiconductor materials to gain the most efficiency from a system. As award sponsors we will be very interested to learn more about other innovative solutions which share our focus on availability, efficiency and reducing environmental impact.
For further information please visit www.centiel.co.uk
Once upon a time, a consultant could specify a UPS for a project that would ensure the client got what they wanted and that very same equipment would arrive on site, be installed, checked and commissioned successfully, then everyone lived happily ever after. However, in today’s world, costs are being increasingly scrutinised and we are seeing more and more examples of ‘value engineering’ coming into play, sometimes to the detriment of the outcome of the project.
What I mean by ‘value engineering’ is that the contractor takes on the spec as a design and build, they then have to make a decision on a product which just about meets requirements but doesn’t always adhere to the original spec. This usually happens as a result of trying to control costs.
The challenge for most projects is that they run over budget, this is often due to the limited information provided at the design stage. This results in one or two ‘guesstimates’ in the spec which is then handed over to the contractor to piece together an installation that will work, for a budget which is usually smaller than what’s really needed.
There is more than one road to Rome, as they say, and there is always more than one solution which will ‘do the job’.
Therefore, the spec will usually name several manufacturers who are suitable to provide an ‘equal and approved alternative’. With the inevitable pressure on budgets, the contractor can be forced into selecting the cheapest option, which may end up costing the client more in running costs plus maintenance, repair and replacement later down the line.
How would it be then, if the ‘equal and approved alternative’ could outperform the spec and still be the most cost-effective way forward? It would be a win-win for client, consultant and contractor alike. To achieve this result requires some joined-up thinking at the planning stage. Why not invite manufacturers into the discussion earlier to pool knowledge resources, ideas and come up with workable options which will save client costs over the long term? Talk is cheap, making mistakes can be costly!
A typical example would be the requirement for 100kW N+1 to support a critical load. Often, we see two standalone UPS systems of say 2x100kW, however, a better solution could be modular. For example: 6x20kW modules would reduce the overall footprint and downsize the battery requirement from 200KW to 120KW. Further, the six modules would need far less switch gear than the two standalone UPS systems (which would need paralleled switch gear). Although the resilience level is the same at N+1, the speed in which redundancy is regained is more than ten times faster than the traditional approach, improving availability. In this example, a loss of redundancy (+1) in a modular system would be the case of losing 1 x 20kW module. Comparably with the standalone solution, a loss of redundancy means a loss of 100kW of UPS, which could take up to six hours of repair onsite or result in that unit being replaced.
At CENTIEL we have recently worked on a couple of interesting projects where we were able to offer an alternative solution to solve particular challenges. By working closely with the contractor and consultant we fulfilled the spec in the most cost-effective way possible.
The first project was for a London client in the financial district, where the spec was for a full 250kW modular UPS frame to support a day two load and resilience level of 200kW N+1. It was identified during the early stages of implementation that the load requirements were actually lower than the anticipated day two spec. We advised supplying 4x50kW modules providing 150kW N+1 to support the actual day one load, reducing the project budget by matching the actual load while leaving the infrastructure for future growth. The day one power requirement was only for four modules, we left the infrastructure in place including a spare bay for an additional module within the UPS frame, the full battery rack and DC isolation unit in place. As the load had increased a year later, we added the fifth module. The architecture of the modular system allowed us to install the fifth module and associated batteries while the system was still live and supporting the load. This enabled the client to reduce the CapEx until required. Right-sizing UPS systems in this way can save considerable expenditure on initial outlay and running costs.
However, it’s not always about juggling module requirements. The second project was a hospital intensive care installation where space in the UPS plant room was particularly limited. The UPS weighed only about half a tonne, but the amount of batteries needed to support the Hospital’s requirement of a 60-minute run time weighed around nine tonnes, so took up a fair proportion of the space available. We designed bespoke battery racks optimising the configuration for ease of access and maintenance of both the UPS and batteries. We maximised use of the floor to ceiling space to create a workable area, ensuring there was enough room to allow for the rest of the equipment including DC isolation, bypass panel, UPS distribution panel and building management service (BMS) which all needed to be accessed readily by our maintenance engineers.
The key to the success of these projects was the open and productive discussions between all parties involved to come up with the best long-term solution for the client, in contrast to a ‘just buy the cheapest’ approach. By working together as trusted advisors, we can help solve these common commercial challenges with solutions that can outperform the spec without compromising on performance.
Remember ‘talk is cheap’ but choosing an unsuitable UPS can work out to be very expensive in the long run!
For further information please visit www.centiel.co.uk
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AVTECH Software (AVTECH) is thrilled to announce that Room Alert has been named ”Innovation Product of the Year” by the International Trade Council during their International Go Global Awards ceremony ...
In the UK, more than 60% of our power comes from burning fossil fuels. Therefore, anything that uses power has an environmental impact. UPS require power to run and air conditioning to cool batteries. There are also environmental implications when it comes to the delivery of new equipment, its ongoing maintenance and the disposal of used equipment containing VRLA (lead acid) batteries which current legislation classes as ‘special waste’.
Most companies have environmental policies. However, the majority still reward staff for buying the ‘cheapest’ option rather than incentivising staff to reduce environmental impact. Understandably, executives at board level are driven to improve profit margins and they have responsibility to their shareholders to grow revenues, but at what cost to our environment? Surely, they also have a responsibility to reduce carbon footprints to protect the world we all, including shareholders, live in.
The latest research paints a bleak picture of our future, if immediate action to reduce carbon footprints is not taken. For example: In October last year, the UN issued a landmark report which stated Greenhouse gas emissions must be cut almost in half by 2030 to avert global environmental catastrophe, including the total loss of every coral reef, the disappearance of Arctic ice and the destruction of island communities. Scientists stated that we need keep temperature increases below 1.5C to avoid the worst effects of global warming. Unless we see a significant move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy and introduce new technology to reverse global warming by removing CO2 from the atmosphere, scientists believe this figure will be exceeded within around 20 years.
So, what can we do?
Select the Most Efficient UPS
Selecting the most efficient UPS is essential to minimise its carbon footprint. If we consider a 100kW UPS operating 24 hours per day/365 days per year, every 1% of efficiency loss wastes 1kW every hour. At only 10p/kW hour this equates to £8,760 over a ten-year period and does not include the energy wasted by additional air conditioning.
Beware, operational efficiencies are often stated by manufacturers as being ‘greater than 99%’. However, this usually relates to offline operation or ‘ecomode’. Datacentres don’t use this mode as it means they would be operating on raw mains and only transferring (with a short break in power) to full UPS operation when there is a problem. True online efficiency is the important percentage to compare UPS solutions as this indicates the real UPS operating efficiency.
Choose a Scalable, Flexible UPS
A UPS needs to operate at the optimum point on its efficiency curve. Systems which are too small will be overloaded, compromising availability while those that are too large, waste energy are costly to run and to maintain. Scalability and flexibility are therefore essential considerations to ensure the continual ‘right sizing’ of the UPS.
Today’s 4th Generation modular UPS technology has a flat efficiency curve for loads above 15%. This is why CENTIEL’s CumulusPower UPS offers >97% efficiency even at low loads and combines the benefits of increased flexibility, scalability and lowest running costs.
Cheap UPS are inevitably built with cheap components which require more maintenance and repair, all adding to the system’s total cost of ownership (TCO) and carbon footprint. A top-quality UPS such as CENTIEL’s CumulusPower, using Li-ion batteries will need one change of the capacitors in 15 years with no battery changes. An inferior solution will need three capacitor changes plus three VLRA battery changes in the same period. Consider the environmental impact of selecting a UPS which reduces the need for maintenance and replacement parts.
Naturally, increased efficiency and lower total cost of ownership for UPS are closely linked with the most environmentally friendly systems enjoying ongoing operating cost savings. However, given a choice, decision makers still purchase the lowest cost system thinking they are “saving money” for their company despite the company’s environmental and sustainability policies. While this behavior is understandable, it needs to change, and employees need to be incentivized to make the right environmental choices before it is too late.
Move to Li-ion
Most UPS systems can operate in an ambient temperature of around 40°C without de-rating, however, VLRA (lead-acid) batteries used to support the UPS start to degrade at above 20°C. VRLA batteries need to be cooled by continual air conditioning and its associated environmental cost.
An alternative is Li-ion battery technology. Li-ion has a higher initial purchase price but can safely operate at higher ambient temperatures so the need for air-conditioning is significantly reduced. In Northern European locations this means cooling could be provided by the natural air temperature, if cooling is needed at all. This would result in significant savings on both datacentre running costs and reduced carbon footprints.
Li-ion batteries also have a much longer useful working life. Five-year design life VRLA batteries are normally replaced every four years. With Li-ion this is every 15 years.
For further information visit www.centiel.co.uk
The speed at which we create this data is increasing at a bewildering rate. It has been estimated that we now create as much data in a single day as was created from the beginning of time until 2010! With the Internet of Things (IoT) any electrical/electronic machine/device will be capable of connecting to the internet and capable of creating data, so the situation is only set to escalate.
With all this data from all these devices the concept of Edge computing is to achieve lower latency and push the computing power closer to the source of that data.
Large mega datacentres will house the essential information securely. However, we also know that it makes logical and practical sense to filter and process the data as close as possible to its source. With this in mind, there will be a growing number of organisation specific micro and small datacentres operating at The Edge. Organisations today, are already starting to create their own micro datacentres, using them to store and process their data local to the organisation while the important data is moved offsite to the Cloud.
The micro or Edge datacentres of the future will attach to office and homes and their availability will need to be protected by electricity and therefore the utilisation of an Uninterruptible Power Supply system (UPS).
By defintion Edge computing facilities will be prevalent and small. The latest generation of power protection equipment is modular in design, with a range of module ratings, small in size, highly efficient and offering flexibility and redundency in a very small footprint. Nine 9’s availability is possible due to high module reliability and “hot swap” capability meaning systems do not need to be switched off, or transferred to external bypass to replace a module.
While technology improvements are always possible, when a UPS is almost 100% available and 100% efficient, there is not much further for the technology to go. However, UPS energy storage in the form of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries will be a game changer. This is because Lead-Acid batteries in common use are relatively large and heavy and their use may be limited in the Edge micro datacentres of the future.
Li-ion batteries however, typically require less than half the physical space of the equivalent Lead Acid blocks and are less than 25% of the weight, they also operate at higher ambient temperatures so require less or no cooling. This means some of the environmental, floor loading and structural challenges of introducing a micro data centre into an existing SME on, say, the top floor of a London building will simply disappear.
In the future the introduction of Edge computing will see facilities managers needing to help support “local” micro and small data centres for organisations of all sizes. A well designed micro and small datacentre will last an organisation several generations of IT equipment whereas a poorly designed micro and small datacentre could cost an organisation a lot of money in terms of poor availability, wasted infrastructure and running costs.
CumulusPower CENTIEL’s scalable and flexible true modular three-phase UPS system that combines class leading availability and efficiency that makes it perfect for use in small, medium and large datacenters. However, not every application requires a modular UPS and for these applications and so we also offer our PremiumTower range. It has the same Swiss build quality and innovative technology seen in CumulusPower but comes in a lower cost, stand-alone cabinet, ranging from 10kW – 120 kW suitable for Edge applications. CENTIEL’s full range of UPS are all Li-ion ready.
Centiel supports the data centres of today and those 10-15 years into the future.
Room Alert Link software gives Room Alert users new and improved management over their environment monitoring hardware, including SSL encryption, one-click firmware updates, faster online/offline status and much more
In October last year, the UN issued a landmark report which stated Greenhouse gas emissions must be cut almost in half by 2030 to avert global environmental catastrophe, including the total loss of every coral reef, the disappearance of Arctic ice and the destruction of island communities. Scientists stated that we need keep temperature increases below 1.5°C to avoid the worst effects of global warming. Unless we see a significant move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy and introduce new technology to reverse global warming by removing CO2 from the atmosphere, scientists believe this figure will be exceeded within around 20 years.
This report paints a bleak picture of our future if rapid action is not taken on an individual and corporate level. Organisations have a responsibility to shareholders to look after them both financially and from an environmental perspective so they need to start taking a long-term view and base purchasing decisions on reducing environmental impact. In this way, we can all play a part in contributing to change.
So, from an environmental perspective what needs to be considered when purchasing a UPS?
If we consider a 100kW UPS operating 24 hours per day/365 days per year, every 1% of efficiency loss wastes 1kW every hour. At only 10p/kW hour this equates to £8,760 over a 10 year period and does not include the energy wasted by additional air conditioning. Currently in the UK, more than 60% of this wasted energy comes from the burning of fossil fuels. This is why selecting the most efficient UPS is essential to minimise the carbon footprint.
Beware, operational efficiencies are often stated by manufacturers as being ‘greater than 99%’, however, this 99% efficiency is related to ‘offline’ operation or ‘ecomode’. No datacentre ever operates on this mode as they would be operating on raw mains and only transferring (with a short break in power) to full UPS operation when there is a problem. True online efficiency is the important percentage to compare UPS solutions as this indicates the real UPS operating efficiency.
From an efficiency perspective, the big challenge is that the IT power requirement in most organizations will change over time. Six-years ago a Comms Room server rack typically required 6kW, today it is likely to require 30kW. So how can the infrastructure be built to meet these dramatically changing demands?
Put simply, a UPS needs to be easily scalable and must always operate at the optimum point on its efficiency curve. A system which is too small will be overloaded, compromising availability while a system which is too large will be inefficient, waste energy and be costly to run. It will also cost more than necessary to maintain due to its size. Scalability and flexibility are therefore essential considerations when purchasing, to ensure the continual ‘right sizing’ of the UPS.
State of the art UPS technology, such as CENTIEL’s 4th Generation modular technology CumulusPower, has a flat efficiency curve for loads above 15% thereby offering the combined benefits of increased flexibility, scalability and lowest running costs.
Most UPS systems can operate in ambient temperature of 40°C without de-rating, however, VLRA (lead-acid) batteries used in UPS start to degrade at above 20°C. For every 10°C above 20°C, the useful working life of the battery is halved. So, a VRLA battery with a ten-year design life working at 20°C will last five years at 30°C and just over two years at 40°C. In addition to the battery replacement costs and/or the requirement for air conditioning there is the environmental cost of replacing many tonnes of batteries that current legislation classifies as ‘special waste’.
An alternative is Li-ion battery technology. Li-ion has a higher purchase price but because Li-ion batteries can operate at higher ambient temperatures without degrading the need for air-conditioning is very significantly reduced. In Northern European locations such as the UK this means UPS cooling could be provided by the natural air temperature resulting in significant savings on data centre running costs and, equally importantly, reducing its carbon footprint.
Li-ion batteries also have a much longer useful working life. Five-year design life VRLA batteries operated at 20°C are normally replaced every 3-4 years. With Li-ion this is 13-15 years.
When it comes to UPS purchase there are usually two budgets: one for the capital expenditure and one for maintenance. Traditionally, the employee selecting the cheapest UPS were misguidedly praised for ‘saving money’ but the cheapest UPS are invariably built with the cheapest components which have much higher repair and maintenance costs and are therefore actually ‘costing money’. A top-quality UPS such as CENTEIL’s CumulusPower, using Li-ion batteries will need only one capacitor change 15 years whereas an inferior solution will typically need three capacitor changes plus three sets of replacement VLRA batteries in 15 years.
Commercial UPS installations can learn from Industrial UPS installations where >25 years’ working life is normal for a UPS. It is true that IT technology is changing very rapidly but the same 230V / 50 Hz being used 20 years ago will be the same in 20 years.
So, by using UPS that are engineered to last, commercial organisations can contribute positively to environmental impact by reducing the need for maintenance, replacement parts and scrappage.
Correct Decision Making
The increase in UPS efficiency from 85% in the 1980s to 97% today is a 12% improvement that reduces the UPS’ carbon footprint but purchase decision makers are often still focused only on the bottom line, missing the bigger environmental picture. Of course, increased efficiency and lower total cost of ownership are closely linked and the most environmentally friendly systems enjoy ongoing operating cost savings. However, given a choice, decision makers still take an ill-informed short term view and purchase the lowest cost system thinking they are “saving money” for their company and often contrary to the company’s environmental and sustainability policies. While this behaviour is understandable it is “old school” and needs to change from the top down and employees need to be incentivized and educated help the make the right environmental choices for all our sakes.
For further information please visit www.centiel.co.uk
David Bond, chairman at Centiel UK, highlights why buying cheaper will only cost you (and the environment) in the long run.
The operating efficiency of a UPS solution and its total cost of ownership are closely linked, and the most environmentally friendly systems enjoy ongoing operational cost savings. For contractors, getting the ‘best deal’ for any organisation is important. However, if we take a long-term view and add the cost of air conditioning, running costs, maintenance, repairs and spares to the initial purchase price, what is actually the ‘best deal’, both financially for the organisation and in terms of the environment is drawn into question.
Selecting the most efficient UPS is essential to minimise its running costs and its carbon footprint. Operational efficiencies are often stated by manufacturers as being ‘greater than 99%’, however, this level of efficiency is normally related to offline operation or ‘ecomode’.
This figure is therefore deceptive as no serious data centre ever runs on ecomode, as it means they would be operating on raw mains and only transferring (with a short break in power) to full UPS operation when there is a power problem. To compare the efficiency of UPS solutions, it is necessary to look at their true online efficiency, as this measure indicates the UPS’ efficiency when it is actually working.
The type of battery technology used can also add to the Total Costs of Ownership (TCO) of the system and its impact on the environment. VRLA (lead-acid) batteries are classified as ‘special waste’ and five-year design life batteries will typically be replaced every three to four years (if operated at 20°C) because it is better to replace VRLA batteries six months early rather than one day too late. Only one aged battery in a string will cause the critical load to crash.
Compare this to Li-ion battery technology which only needs replacing every 13-15 years in normal ambient temperatures. Li-ion batteries may be more expensive initially but as well as not needing to be replaced, they do not need air conditioning, further reducing their operating costs. VRLA batteries start to prematurely age at temperatures above 20°C and so require air cooling. This is expensive both financially and for the environment as currently more than 60% of the UK’s power comes from burning fossil fuels.
In Northern European locations such as the UK, using Li-ion means UPS cooling could be provided by the natural air temperature, resulting in significant savings on data centre running costs and, equally importantly, reducing its carbon footprint.
UPS maintenance costs also add to its TCO and if we take an overall view about the total financial and environmental burden of the system, then this also needs to be taken into consideration.
When it comes to UPS purchase, there are usually two budgets: one for the capital expenditure and one for maintenance. However, the cheapest UPS are invariably built with the cheapest components which have much higher repair and maintenance costs and are therefore actually ‘cost money’ over the system’s working life.
A UPS such as Centiel’s CumulusPower, using Li-ion batteries, will need just one capacitor change and no battery changes in 13-15 years. An inferior solution will need three capacitor changes and three sets of replacement VLRA batteries in the same period. This increases the TCO and the UPS user will need to dispose of many tonnes of scrap VRLA batteries which the current legislation classifies as ‘special waste’. This is why it is essential to calculate the real TCO of systems to compare the financial and environmental differences.
The next point to consider is right sizing. From an efficiency perspective, the big challenge is that the IT power requirement in most organisations will change over time and selecting a UPS that operates at the optimum point on its efficiency curve is essential.
A system which is too small will be overloaded, compromising availability, while a system which is too large will be inefficient, waste energy and be costly to run. It will also cost more than necessary to maintain due to its size. Scalability and flexibility are therefore essential considerations when ensuring the continual ‘right sizing’ of the UPS.
Today’s state of the art UPS technology offers >97% true online efficiency and a flat efficiency curve for loads above 15%, thereby offering the combined benefits of increased flexibility, scalability and lowest running costs.
It is important for organisations to recognise that purchasing the cheapest UPS system does not “save money” and certainly does not adhere to an environmentally friendly approach. The true TCO (as opposed to a cheap purchase price) for the UPS needs to be fully understood and decision makers must select the right UPS to please their boss, the company’s shareholders and the planet.
For further information please visit www.centiel.co.uk
Prime Wire & Cable, one of the leading manufacturers of extension cords and structured cabling solutions is introducing a new line of Energy Efficient Modular Data Centers at the BICSI Show in Las Veg ...
Reliability is often considered the key attribute when buying a UPS. Yet a system can be reliable over a period of time, but still fail on a particular occasion with far-reaching consequences. Therefore, availability must be your No. 1 priority.
In an always-on world, we depend on being connected round the clock with immediate access to information and with zero downtime. We want a system that never fails.
In recent years, modular systems have introduced a significant step-change in the industry.
When properly configured, they are designed to maximise load availability and system efficiency simultaneously. This is because modular systems have a single frame, containing a number of power modules which run together and share the load equally. If one fails it automatically isolates itself from the system and the remaining modules continue to support the critical load, preserving system availability. Furthermore, with decentralised architecture there is no single point of failure, contributing to the highest level of availability. In addition with hot swappability the load also remains protected even when any individual module is being replaced.
Another consideration is total cost of ownership (TCO). Purchasing poor quality or inferior designed products can rapidly drive up overall investment costs. Batteries and other components may need to be replaced within a short time – think fans, capacitors etc. Efficiency and lower TCO are inextricably linked. Look for a UPS with the highest online efficiency; as well as reducing energy costs they are environmentally friendly.
Purchasing directly from a manufacturer also cuts out the middle man, reducing cost and providing the peace of mind of full factory support and servicing, plus that all important factory warranty.
Consider also Li-ion. Unlike lead acid, Li-ion batteries are happy running at a temperature of high 20/low 30 degrees centigrade. Similarly, most IT systems work at >25 degrees C and the UPS technology itself can work well up to 40 degrees C. By contrast, an industry standard estimate is that for every 10 degrees above 20 C the operating life of a lead-acid (VRLA) battery is halved.
Switching to Li-ion could mean significant savings on running costs and a reduced carbon footprint. However, not all UPS are Li-ion ready. Technology needs to be compatible to “talk” to the Li-ion battery monitoring system.
Remember that no matter how sturdy and state-of-the-art, your UPS equipment can’t always be relied on to look after itself! So do have a planned maintenance programme for ongoing, reliable operation and safe upkeep.
For support when buying a UPS contact our team of experts firstname.lastname@example.org
Santa Clarita begins testing the effectiveness of installing Room Alert environment monitors throughout the city to monitor traffic signal and crossing gate status to improve commute times and reduce repair costs.
The lifetime of a typical UPS lifetime is usually around ten years. This is because manufacturers are obliged to supply replacement parts for up to ten years after cessation of manufacture.
Therefore, the purchasing of equipment five years before this end date may extend the product’s apparent life to 14 years – after which, capacitors and/or batteries usually require replacing for a second or third time thereby making further investment in aging technology prohibitive.
Surprisingly, replacement batteries can cost 30 to 40% of a brand-new UPS system. The standard five or ten-year design life VRLA type battery will generally require replacing at four or eight years
Replacing individual faulty battery blocks in strings is not recommended due to the different impedances between old and new and equalisation becomes a problem. Rapid chemical build-up within the new blocks will seriously affect their performance and within weeks they can become significantly ‘aged’; best practice is to replace all batteries at the same time.
Replacement of capacitors, AC and DC, is also a costly exercise and although prices vary depending on the UPS system, can amount to around 5-10% of the cost of a new UPS. Recommended replacement times vary between manufacturer with some advocating changing both at five years. Confirm this with your UPS supplier!
For the reasons above, if your UPS is approaching a point where both batteries and capacitors need replacing, it is worth considering the potential commercial advantages of replacement versus repair.
A new system will have a 2-year warranty, advances in technology mean it will be more efficient, making significant savings on running costs on both electricity and reduced cooling requirements.
Over time, your load profile will undoubtedly have changed so it is worth investigating Modular UPS systems which can be right-sized more easily to your actual load: why pay for a large UPS when you don’t need it!? The Modular option can therefore reduce CAPEX as well as OPEX. In addition, the latest generation of Modular systems offer the highest availability and continuity of critical power delivery. For example: CENTIEL’s fourth generation modular UPS CumulusPower has 99.9999999% availability.
In some situations, a brand-new system could offer a far better technical solution at a similar cost to replacement parts. For a mid-range UPS system, say 60 to 200KVA, the remedial battery works may cost around £5-15K plus the cost of the capacitors. Suddenly, the cost of a similar sized replacement becomes attractive. Plus, a new UPS will come with that warranty and lower running costs.
However, often in business, OPEX and CAPEX lie in different cost centres. It might be easier to push through a purchase order for replacement batteries than invest in a new UPS which would offer long-term savings on running costs and provide higher availability. Here a total cost of ownership (TCO) calculation is helpful to assess the savings over the long term following a capital investment.
For example, a legacy 200kVA standalone UPS only using 100kVA of power could be replaced with a 200-kVA frame with two x 50KVA Modules. This right-sizing using UPS modules reduces CAPEX and lowers ongoing maintenance costs too.
In a recent TCO calculation: the energy saved by replacing an oversized, inefficient, UPS paid for a new Modular system within three years! The calculated savings over ten years made the decision a ‘no-brainer’.
Advances in UPS technology can also reduce the cost of future replacement parts. Legacy UPS systems have capacitors soldered on to printed circuit board, where in contrast, the latest modular UPSs facilitate simple swapping capability via components mounted on screw in sub-assemblies. CENTIEL has designed CumulusPower so the DC capacitors only require replacement every ten years and AC capacitors every five-six years so can be changed separately to save costs.
When considering this repair/replacement conundrum, consider also how your business may change in the future. Will it grow? Will it always run at its current capacity? A new, truly modular configuration offers “pay as you grow” flexibility. Right-sizing the system initially, minimises CAPEX, while providing the capability to upgrade your system’s capacity with additional Modules.
For further information visit www.centiel.co.uk
The UPS industry has seen changes in topology from single standalone units to multiple redundant configurations, the establishment of the transformerless based design and the Modular concept. The driver has been to reduce energy and seek higher efficiency and at the same time increase availability by removing single points of failure. Most major manufacturers’ UPS have very high online operating efficiencies and there are now more Modular type systems in the market.
However, the term ‘modular’ can have different interpretations to different individuals. Therefore, it is important to analyse the nature of what is being described as a ‘modular system’ carefully when purchasing a UPS, to ensure the essential power of the datacentre is protected at all times. Understanding the configuration and the definition of a modular system carefully, before the deal is done, is therefore critical.
At the most basic level, a single standalone UPS unit that protects a critical load is known as an N system configuration. However, a standalone UPS lacks any resilience in the event that the unit develops a fault or is offline for preventative maintenance. Paralleling a second standalone UPS unit of the same rating, provides resilience and is known as an N+1 configuration. It would be possible to parallel several standalone units together of an individual smaller rating to give the same philospohy. At the most basic level this could be described as a modular UPS system. However, there does need to be the associated electrical infrastructure –switchgear etc – to be able to add more standalone units.
Another definition of modular is a standalone UPS designed and manufactured in a modular format. The main component parts of rectifier, inverter and static switch are modular, that is to say they can be withdrawn/inserted as a single component. If there is a problem with say the recitfier for example, it can be swapped easily. The challenge with this configuration is that if one component does fail, the whole UPS functionality goes down with it. It may be a modular system by a definition but its level of availability will not be reliable.
A better solution is what we term: a true modular UPS. This is where several individual UPS modules are contained within a frame. All the individual modules are UPSs in their own right, all containing a rectifier, inverter and static switch and all operating online in parallel with each other. For example eight 20kW UPS modules may typically be contained within a single frame offering a resilient configuration of 140KWs N+1. Various frame and module sizes are available. If required, it takes moments (around 30 seconds) to ‘hot-swap’ a module while the rest of the modules continue to protect the critical load. At no point does the system need to be transferred to maintenance bypass and hence on raw mains.
Some other modular systems include the rectifier and inverter within their modules but the static switch is a centralised and separate component. This results in a potential single point of failure. It may only take a few moments to replace a separate static switch, but, depending on location, getting to the site to replace it may take a maintance engineer several hours. During that time the system cannot transfer to static bypass. With a true modular system, where the static switch is included in each module, the rest of the modules in the UPS frame continue to protect the load until it can be replaced. This increases the level of availablity dramatically.
When selecting a UPS system, the up-front CAPEX necessarily comes into question. This can lead organisations to purchase at lesser cost but at the risk of buying a lesser product. Therefore, it is essential to check all proposals to ensure that you are being offered a modular system that really will do the job intended: protect the critical power of your datacentre with the highest level of availability. The installation of a higher CAPEX, higher quality UPS system can realise cost savings over the long-term through increased efficiency, resulting in lower running costs and a lower overall total cost of ownership (TCO), so doing a full cost analysis is usually worth calculating.
Advances in UPS design are increasing efficiency and resilience, writes Centiel UK managing director Mike Elms…
In any industry, there is always innovation and advancement. In the UPS world, there have been changes in topology from single standalone units to multiple redundant configurations, the establishment of the transformerless based design and the modular concept. These changes have been driven primarily by the increasing cost of energy, hence seeking higher and higher efficiency was the goal, but also by the nirvana of eliminating single points of failure, attaining the highest availability – i.e no downtime.
Most major manufacturer’s UPS equipment have very high online operating efficiencies and there are now more modular type systems on the market. High efficiency is more or less a given, nowadays, so how do you achieve the highest availability?
One innovation is Distributed Active Redundant Architecture (DARA), taking downtime from seconds to the milliseconds level. This technology and modular hot-swap capability provides availability of 9 nines (99.999999999). DARA is a concept introduced by Centiel into its 4th generation UPS CumulsPower True Modular UPS design. So, what exactly is DARA?
D is for Distributed
Distributed means that a decentralised architecture is utilised so that there is no single active component which can be a potential single point of failure.
There is no single control board, no single system static switch and no single parallel bus. Each module within the frame is a UPS in its own right. Each module is actually a fully independent and self-isolating intelligent module with all the building blocks of a standalone UPS unit – including rectifier, inverter, static switch, battery charger, intelligence (CPU and communication logic) and mimic panel.
Take the modules out of the frame, put them beside each other on the floor, cable them up and you have a traditional looking multi-UPS parallel redundant system.
For most modular UPS units, however, the commonly used single system, separate static switch is of most concern, as it can become a potential single point of failure.
A is for Active
A is the automated democratic decision-making process which is the real differentiator in DARA. It means the sum of the decision determines the total system action or reaction to any issues.
In a standard modular UPS, where modules share the load, if one has a problem it could signal all the modules go to static bypass.
However, a true modular UPS with DARA makes democratic decisions; when a fault is recognised in one module, but not the others, they will remain online while the problematic module is switched off automatically and isolated.
The automated process removes some of the human element which has led to data centre power failures in recent years.
R is for Redundant
From a technological point of view, building redundancy into the UPS system increases availability. Redundancy simply means adding extra modules that will support the load in the event of failure.
By utilising a true N+1 configuration, a failure in one module results in that module being isolated, leaving the remaining modules supporting the load. This results in high availability, while the rapid hot swap modular concept offers the lowest mean time to repair. It takes minutes to replace a module.
However, duplication and redundancy of UPS components must also apply to communication between modules too. The most simple communications bus is a single cable; a break could potentially compromise the entire system. A ring circuit eliminates this as the signals can simply communicate the other way around the ring.
For increased assurance, a triple mode communications bus is provided. As the name suggests, there are three paths of communication with three separate ring circuits, and three brains in each module communicating with the three brains in all the other modules.
A is for Architecture
The overall architecture in Centiel’s CumulusPower modular design is a completely decentralised one, where no common component can act as a potential single point of failure. Instead of one brain, there are multiple brains that work together to make the best decision for the whole.
The purpose of a UPS system must be to protect critical loads with the highest level of efficiency and availability. There are many different solutions to the same problem, therefore, it is important to check the configuration and the definition of a modular system carefully and seek expert advice before making an expensive purchase.
For further information please visit www.centiel.co.uk
In this article, we have touched on just a few points that need regular review. Our own network of factory trained CENTIEL engineers visiting a facility have a factory designed maintenance program which checks the condition of all essential components. Clients are made aware of the need for any replacements to ensure the continued running of the UPS. Preventive maintenance is key to maintaining the availability of the system over time.
For further information please visit www.centiel.co.uk