By Louis McGarry, Sales and Marketing Director, Centiel UK  

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has brought in new guidelines to cover the proper Maintenance of industrial uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems – HSE. This move followed investigations into a number of “dangerous occurrences that resulted from a failure of industrial UPS systems”.

The guidelines state that UPS designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers should: “now review the information for maintenance (including inspection) provided historically to all end users of your industrial UPS systems and determine if you need to provide more up to date information, resulting from experience in use, design modifications, limitations on use or anything else that gives risk to a serious risk to health and safety. Following this review, designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers should take steps to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all affected end users are provided with all revisions of information to assure safe and reliable continued operation.”

At Centiel we welcome this safety notice. As an industry we must all do more to ensure the correct and safe maintenance of UPS systems. This doesn’t just apply to industrial UPS but also to commercial. We are talking about both AC and DC power here! However, from a manufacturer and service provider’s perspective, there are other challenges which I believe also need to be openly discussed.

Like the majority of other manufacturers, we already clearly state the design life of components in our documentation. We also recommend a fully comprehensive preventative maintenance plan to ensure components with a finite life are replaced at the appropriate time. But here’s where things can occasionally go wrong. Our field service reports may clearly state the need for remedials, but I know I won’t be the only one who’s seen long delays in the approval of these works, putting the critical load at risk. This response is a dangerous one!

There is a further issue. When value engineering becomes the focus, quality and performance can be compromised. This can influence the decision to purchase a product that does not fully adhere to the original specification. This can have a knock-on effect on the organisation’s maintenance plan and may result in a variety of manufacturers supporting one site. This could mean multiple maintenance plans or one plan fulfilled by a third party provider that may not have factory trained engineers, access to the right firmware updates or spare parts.

At Centiel, we ensure that our clients receive a minimum of two preventative maintenance visits per year. Field service reports highlight remedial actions to be taken and in what timeframe. 24/7/365 technical support and callout response is backed up by SLAs and we provide spare parts and firmware.

However, perhaps this is not going far enough? Perhaps as an industry we should consider introducing something even more definite. A ‘stop or go’ situation if you like. Maybe an annual “MOT” where insurance certificates are only issued if the UPS passes?

The HSE is right to issue this important safety notice. However, everyone needs to consider a safe approach and heed manufacturer recommendations. They are recommendations for a reason.

Originally featured in Inside Networks Magazine August 2022.

03300 567 567 Sign up to our mailing list Follow us on LinkedIn