Next Generation Backup Power

Next Generation Backup Power

Cabinet manufacturer learns that "uninterruptible" isn't necessarily so when it comes to UPS systems.

With IT systems becoming the nerve center of the body corporate, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that protects the company's systems from unplanned and costly outages is an essential part of disaster planning infrastructure.

A 2005 power outage at wood products manufacturer MasterBrand Cabinets Inc. led the company's management to decide that a more robust system was in order than the battery bank they had thought was up to the job.

Like a bad bulb in a string of Christmas lights, one cell in their UPS battery cabinet faulted, rendering the rest useless at a critical moment. "The cost to MasterBrand of that outage was substantial," said IT contracts manager Rick Shipley. "We decided that we needed a redundant power backup system."

To fulfill this need, MasterBrand investigated the possibility of using flywheel technology, a UPS alternative, instead of backup battery banks. The new generation of flywheel is made of lightweight, carbon fiber composites and stores enough kinetic energy to provide for smooth handoff of power to on-site generators.

At MasterBrand, for instance, managers found that one flywheel could carry the load of the company's IT and fire suppression equipment for more than 30 seconds.

However, after having been bitten by an unplanned blackout once, Shipley said MasterBrand wasn't twice shy about installing two redundant systems -- their brand new Pentadyne flywheel cabinets are installed alongside the usual UPS battery banks.

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