Once you have purchased and installed a UPS system, the real cost of UPS ownership begins. Ongoing maintenance coverage, battery replacements, capacitors and fans are all items that contribute significantly to the cost of UPS ownership. Despite the cost, consistent UPS maintenance is a critical, necessary part of ensuring you have power when you need it.
A good UPS service organization should help you understand the pros and cons of each UPS system, including its maintenance requirements and total lifetime cost of ownership. Here’s what to look for in a proper maintenance agreement that will keep your systems running smoothly:
While a UPS failure should be a rare occurrence, it certainly does happen. You need a service team that has a proven track record for emergency response. Most service organizations will provide an 8-hour onsite response guarantee, but may offer a 4-hour or even 2-hour onsite response. Since downtime is lost revenue, make sure that your service partner is dedicated to getting you back online as quickly as possible. Before the emergency technician is onsite, your service provider should have provided phone support to help diagnose what happened and find out if there are immediate steps we can take to keep your facility online and safe.
Most UPS manufacturers recommend that a UPS and battery system should have a minimum of two preventative maintenance inspections annually. But what is right for your facility or data center? After being in this industry for many years, we’ve seen many different approaches to maintenance and support services. What might be right for one organization might not work well for your critical environment. A proper maintenance agreement should take your site requirements under consideration.
In another article, we discussed how regular maintenance inspections can significantly reduce the risk of downtime in your facility. Most likely, you’ve installed a UPS system to protect your equipment from power failure and other power anomalies that could hurt your ability to continue to operate. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, the number of preventative maintenance inspections completed annually drastically reduces downtime as a result of power loss.
While the manufacturer has its biannual recommendation, it is important to take several factors into consideration when choosing your own maintenance schedule:
- What is the UPS environment? Heat is a UPS system’s worst enemy.
- What is the criticality of the load supported?
- What is the cost of downtime? If the power fails and your business goes dark, what would it cost you in lost productivity and lost sales?
If your organization has a high cost of downtime, consider increasing your maintenance inspections on key components in your power infrastructure. Many of our clients choose quarterly battery inspections to avoid the risk of load loss due to a simple battery failure.
Parts and Labor
Most UPS Service Level Agreements will include some form of parts and labor as part of their emergency response. This coverage may exclude certain items like batteries or capacitors, so be sure to investigate to find out what is covered. This coverage does not take the place of proactive replacement of key components and is typically a “break/fix” contract, meaning that parts and labor are covered to repair or remedy a system that has already failed. Proactive maintenance and replacement is key to ensuring that your loads stay online and protected.
One of the undervalued services of a qualified maintenance provider is the advice and care that they provide. A good contractor should have a “customer for life” attitude. Ensuring that they keep you up to date on maintenance items, repairs and manufacturer changes is important and should be routine. As systems reach end of life, they should assist your team in analyzing replacement options that make sense for your company. Making sure that your service organization is not tied to a specific UPS manufacturer can also help keep your best interest first. They can help match you with the proper equipment, not whatever the manufacturer is pushing.
While there are many areas to review when selecting a UPS service partner, the most important component is the organization’s integrity and commitment to doing the right thing, the first time.