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POWER SYSTEMS Steve Mason, Managing Director of Bender UK


Critical care for healthcare power systems


A UPS system is the central building block of a Power Continuity Plan in medical facilities across the UK but it requires careful maintenance to continue its vital role in delivering power resilience, and avoiding catastrophic downtime and potentially tens of thousands of pounds in costs to rectify the issues caused by poor maintenance. Bender UK is a provider of isolated power supplies and UPS systems alongside theatre control panels, and Steris surgical products. It is also a turnkey provider of innovative solutions for safe handling of electrical power and advanced provision of critical care products.


The sophistication and complexity of a Power Continuity Plan will depend upon the business/ clinical risk assessment, the level of resilience required, the size of loads to protect, future expansion and the budget available. In terms of resilience, a Power Continuity


Plan is concerned with the use of multiple power paths to ensure AC supply continuity even during maintenance, the ability of the power protection systems to clear fault conditions, and achievement of the lowest possible number of single points of failure. A UPS (Uninterruptible Power System) is


the primary building block around which the plan is designed. Dual input supplies and static transfer switches are not considered viable options for this role, but can provide useful support functions to improve overall system design. A number of UPS configurations are


available including single, parallel and series redundant systems – each offering a different level of resilience, Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) and availability.


2 Random failures: During normal working the rate of these is low and fairly constant.


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UPS failure curve Failure rates for UPS in common with other sensitive electronic devices follow a ‘bath tub curve’ through three distinct periods. 1 ‘Infant Mortality’ Failures: These early failures are due to component or manufacturing defect, or installation issues.


3 Wear Out Failures: At the end of working life or due to poor maintenance and monitoring of the system and its operational conditions. Battery problems are common and can account for over 98% of UPS failures at this stage


Temperature is overwhelmingly the single biggest factor in UPS battery failures, and high ambient temperatures can cause batteries to break down, casings to melt and weld together into an immovable mass, and internal cabling insulation to become brittle and fail. Other consumable items that require monitoring include capacitors and fans which of course, takes you back to temperature – the big threat to UPS batteries. Maintenance teams operating in


hospitals and medical facilities may consider that ‘Infant Mortality’ issues relating to installation faults or immediate component failure fall into the category of ‘not my problem!’ But legacy issues of that kind can come


back to bite you. For example, if a UPS system goes operational during the commissioning phase, it may be that systems such as ventilation or air conditioning are required


to maintain ambient temperatures in the plant room are not put to work for some months. During that period before handover damagingly high temperatures could develop which could seriously impact the life of the batteries years later. An earlier error then


Steve Mason


Steve Mason was appointed Managing Director of Bender UK in 2010 and has forged key strategic partnerships with healthcare sector suppliers.


He served an electrical craft apprenticeship and gained wide experience in a range of critical electrical supply environments before joining Bender in 2003. He holds a 1st class BSc (Hons) in Project Management, and is a Member of the institute of Engineering and Technology (MIET) and the Institute of Directors. Steve helped to shape regulation governing the use of unearthed power supplies within critical healthcare applications, and is known as an authority on protection for the sophisticated electrical systems required by healthcare facilities.


IFHE DIGEST 2015


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