Though most of us don’t normally think about it, modern businesses rely heavily on electricity to operate. This ranges from keeping the lights on, supplying power to laptops and PCs, as well as keeping the air conditioning humming. For retail outlets, systems such as the point-of-sale (POS) system play a vital role not only to ring up purchases, but also to let employees check the stock inventory or access customer loyalty points.
Ensuring business continuity
Unfortunately, blackouts or intermittent disruptions to mains power do happen. This is why backup power from an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is essential to keep business operations going. Self-contained devices with built-in batteries, they are plugged into mains power and themselves come with multiple power outlets that electrical appliances are plugged into.
In the event of a power disruption, the UPS ensures business continuity by seamlessly switching from the failed mains power to their internal power source. As observed by Imad Dridi of Schneider Electric in a blog post, businesses that can benefit from power protection range from restaurants, hotels, dry cleaners, laundromats, to pharmacies – among others.
In situations where it is impractical or too costly to wire up every system to a UPS, the onus is on individual organisations to evaluate the most mission-critical systems to be protected. A possible evaluation metric might be to rank systems based on the reduction in customer experience or lost income stemming from an outage.
Start with a list of systems
As businesses sit down to make a list, they will do well not to forget their networking systems, given the prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as computer hardware that require Internet access. Indeed, many businesses now deploy a plethora of monitoring systems covering everything from the temperature of the oven and refrigeration to the humidity level, and these should be protected, too.
To ensure connectivity for these devices, the Internet modem and network switches must similarly be protected by a UPS. Don’t forget the Wi-Fi access points (APs) either, though these are sometimes powered through Power over Ethernet (PoE) from the network switch.
Finally, safety and security systems should not be overlooked. This typically includes connected burglar alarms as well as IP cameras. For digital surveillance cameras that store the video footage locally, this will need to include the digital storage appliance that they are streaming to.
Modern businesses simply cannot afford to be out of commission even for short lengths of time. And even if the immediate impact on profitability is low, the disruption to operations is likely to be highly detrimental to customer satisfaction, culminating in an adverse impact on their revenue down the road. For the continued health of the business, ensuring continuity is a real and present concern.
Where power demands are high, then a commercial UPS solution might be necessary. Alternatively, the Schneider Electric Partner Portal has resources such as a comprehensive list of power protection products designed for small buildings.
Article by Michael Kurniawan, Vice President, Secure Power Division, Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei, Schneider Electric