Choosing an Industrial UPS that Can Withstand Harsh Transportation Environments, from Vibration to Humidity and Chemicals
For an industrial UPS to do its job well in a harsh transportation environment – meaning provide power protection to various applications – then it must be able to stand up to the rigors that an environment presents, including vibration, dust and chemicals.
Not all UPSs are built that way. Most live in a climate-controlled environment such as a data center or office building, safe from any elements that may do it harm. But UPSs that have to function in an airport, rail system, seaport or road tunnel are a different breed, built with special features that enable them to withstand the day-to-day realities of these environments. These types of applications require a unique power protection solution to keep transportation operations running, as well as ensuring passenger safety.
Power Protection that Withstands Tremors
One element is the ability to deal with serious vibration. Consider a railway or subway system, which has numerous critical systems that need UPS protection. Some of them are in areas close to where the trains are passing by, such as those protecting the signaling systems as well as line and track monitoring systems.
Every time a train passes at high speed, it creates significant vibration, enough to damage the delicate electronics of many IT-related systems and underground lines, not to mention kick up lots of dust. What’s required is a UPS (and other systems) that are ruggedized, built to withstand that kind of vibration and outfitted with dust filters.
Schneider Electric, for example, has light industrial application UPSs that do have dust filters and can withstand significant vibration, with varying seismic certifications.
Protecting UPSs against Harsh, Humid Environments
In some transportation environments, the environment can be inhospitable to UPSs, whether it’s excessive humidity or chemicals in the air that can corrode the UPS cabinet and components over time. This is especially true for underground applications such as railroads or road tunnels, which are damp and dusty.
I know of an area near Bombay in India that is home to many chemical factories. At a train station there you can often smell sulfur in the air, and it’s likely there’s chemical residue in the air.
Such instances demand a UPS have a conformal coating, which is a polymeric film that protects the UPSs’ sensitive components from whatever might be in the air, including moisture and chemicals.
Reliability is Paramount for Industrial UPSs
Another element to look for in an industrial UPS is high reliability, which can take several forms. With a modular UPS, for example, you can create highly redundant systems, whether N+1 or N+4, depending on your requirements. So if one module fails, another takes over.
Systems that allow you to swap out batteries while the UPS remains in service is also crucial for extended uptime. Say utility power is out for 5 hours and your UPS battery provides only 2 hours of uptime. A modular design that lets you swap out batteries on the fly would enable you to have extra batteries on hand for such situations, providing a high degree of availability.
Safety is another consideration, which is why you want an industrial UPS that complies with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) IP Codes. These codes define the degree of protection the UPS casing provides against intrusion by human body parts (such as hands and fingers), as well as dust and water.
The codes have two digits, with the first indicating the level of protection against foreign objects or the touching of hazardous parts. The second has to do with protection against water and other liquids. Higher codes indicate more protection. For example, IP 21 means protection against fingers or similar objects and dripping water, while IP 66 means the casing is dust-tight and protected against jets of water. Schneider Electric provides IP 21 as a baseline UPS system.
Learn More about Industrial Business Continuity
The point is, not all industrial UPSs are the same. It is critical to assess the requirements of each situation and select a UPS that will fit the exact need to prevent service disruption and ensure safety.
We have resources that can help, including our Secure Power Industrial Selector, an online tool that walks you through the UPS selection process, as well as a single phase UPS designed for traffic signals and other industrial harsh environments.
Lastly, don’t forget to explore our industrial business continuity web page, where you’ll also find case studies, reference guides and lots more. I hope you find them useful.
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