While a growing number of organizations are recognizing that regular uninterruptible power system (UPS) maintenance is one of the most successful and cost-effective tactics to ensure their ongoing performance, some are still making the mistake of assuming they can complete this critical task in-house.
The fact is, the majority of service undertakings require a trained technician. Not only is UPS maintenance best left to those intimately familiar with the devices, but the most common UPS tests to optimize availability require a level of expertise — and tools — that only professional service engineers can offer.
Indeed, the maintenance strategies of the most successful UPS installations — which are measured by system availability or uptime — include a number of functional UPS tests and component checks. Because every UPS contains life-limited parts that must be replaced according to the manufacturer’s specifications, regular maintenance is essential to ensure these components are properly cared for and replaced when needed.
During a preventive maintenance visit, a technician will likely perform the following key assessments:
1. Transfer to bypass — This evaluation, which checks the static switch and bypass breaker motor operator or contactor on the UPS, can be performed with the load on maintenance bypass. The test should be completed at least annually.
2. Load balancing – This appraisal checks to see if loads on any phase are approaching 100 percent. It is important to realize that if just one phase is overloaded, it can trigger an unexpected alarm or transfer, even if the other two phases are only lightly loaded. To limit potential overloads, loads may be redistributed.
3. Phase rotation/site wiring – During a UPS service call, it is imperative to inspect for out-of-limit bypass alarms or site wiring faults, which can occur as a result of normal site wiring changes or maintenance. These problems can be concealed until a transfer to bypass is attempted.
4. Battery operation – Recommended monthly, a battery operation test is sometimes coupled with a transfer-to-generator support and return to normal. This assessment collectively analyzes the UPS, generator and automatic transfer switch (ATS) functions.
5. Listening tests – There are many subtle noises that can easily go undetected by end users. But an experienced UPS service technician will be familiar with even the most elusive warning sounds — able to ascertain abnormal operational hums, echoes, swishes and vibrations. Their trained ears can pick up on potential problems including arcing, fan-bearing issues and various synchronization problems.
6. Visual tests – An experienced UPS technician can uncover a multitude of potential issues before they become problems. Leaking capacitors, signs of overheating components, connections that have come loose over time through vibration all can be found with a look by trained eyes.
Your UPS solution is far too critical to the success of your organization to leave in inexperienced hands. Unified Power offers a wide variety of maintenance and specialty services to ensure all power supply equipment is properly maintained. Give us a call today to discuss the best options to meet your company’s needs.
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