Deon Ferreira, Data Centre Leader, Eaton Africa

The only thing worse than having to suspend your business and lose money because of loadshedding is to realise that your carefully planned uninterrupted power supply (UPS) installation is not up to the task of keeping things running because it has not been properly maintained.

October 2019’s unexpected round of loadshedding shattered business and industry’s expectations of a loadshedding-free summer, which was promised by Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan in early September last year. Thus, regular maintenance of fallback infrastructure has never been more important.

This is true for a wide variety of businesses and operations, including mining, banking, hospitals, hotels, water processing plants, and manufacturing facilities, all of whom drive the engines of the economy.

It’s impossible to quantify the damage that would be caused by a bank’s data centre shutting down during a power failure because its UPS system had not been sufficiently maintained.

Similarly, loadshedding at a hospital without a fully operational UPS facility would jeopardise the lives of high care and ICU patients, while a mine without an alternate power source would place the lives of workers underground at massive risk, in addition to the massive and expensive wastage that would occur if high power demand facilities like smelters were shut down mid-production.

Although it’s a legal requirement for hospitals and other facilities to have UPS backup in place, these installations must be regularly maintained if they are to be operational in a time of crisis, and if they are to produce power of sufficient quality.

Managing the life cycle of a facility’s electrical assets is best done by experts in the field who have quick access to any spare parts that may be required.

It’s a specialist role that cannot be added to the site’s IT manager’s portfolio. Rather, a regular contract with a trusted maintenance partner is the most effective way to ensure that UPS maintenance is completed regularly, and properly.