Uninterruptible power supply cuts manufacturer’s downtime

The modern manufacturing floor typically includes networked computers, PLCs, robots, and other power-sensitive microprocessor-based electronics that must operate reliably from utility power. At one major airline manufacturer, an unexpected power problem resulted in the scrapping of thousands of dollars worth of parts.
By Control Engineering Staff October 1, 2008

The modern manufacturing floor typically includes networked computers, PLCs, robots, and other power-sensitive microprocessor-based electronics that must operate reliably from utility power.

At one major airline manufacturer, an unexpected power problem resulted in the scrapping of thousands of dollars worth of parts. The micro-controller responsible for monitoring a key stage in the parts manufacturing process had been plugged into a low-cost, line-interactive type uninterruptable power supply (UPS) that “provided basic battery backup and minimal power conditioning. It was designed to protect computers in a home or office,” according to Rob Ayala, a CNC engineer at the plant.

An airline manufacturer switched to a Falcon Electric online SSG Industrial-Grade UPS for improved manufacturing quality.

“The line-interactive UPS would let transients and dirty utility power directly through to the micro-controller. This would frequently result in the loss of critical data communications, requiring the process to be shut down prior to completion,” Ayala says.

“After we had solved the process power problem by deploying on-line UPSs in that cell,” Ayala explains, “we moved the line-interactive UPSs to backup non-critical computers. We then noticed that the batteries inside the on-line UPSs would last for several years, typically two to three times longer than the one to two year life we would get from the line-interactive systems.

“In my support role, I would frequently receive calls about malfunctioning line-interactive UPSs, and it was almost always the result of weak or dead batteries that had failed prematurely.”

This led Ayala to reconsider the plant’s UPS designs. He selected the Falcon Electric SSG Industrial-Grade On-line UPS, with several SSG 1.5 kVA units. The line is rated to withstand environments with temperatures up to 55 °C.

When looking to perform a similar analysis at your plant, Ayala offers the following UPS suggestions:

  • Evaluate the UPS provider Website for product selection;

  • Check for industrial-grade ratings and designs;

  • Call to gauge the knowledge and helpfulness of sales and technical staff; and

  • Select an on-line UPS to ensure reliable operations for any industrial setting using microprocessor-based equipment on the production floor.

www.falconups.com