Preventing Automation Outages Through Uninterrupted Power Supply Systems

Monday, December 10th, 2018

 Automation outages refers to downtime during manufacturing or industrial operations. In a food and beverage (F&B) plant, automation outages is estimated to cost between $100,000 and $1 million per hour. Therefore, a continuous supply of electrical power is critical for the industry. Through this article, Gernut van Laak, Group Automation Solutions Leader Food & Beverage at ABB explains how manufacturers can prevent unexpected outages.


For F&B manufacturers, the absence of electrical power for even a short time can result in a loss of productivity, product and revenue. This is especially true for unexpected outages.


For example, in the dairy industry, accurate tracking and tracing of the product throughout the manufacturing process is critical. This is because, in the event that the plant loses power and the process control system is interrupted, the system may not be able to record or process the collected data from the batch of manufactured products. This would mean that a risk of non-compliance with food safety regulations could arise and if critical events cannot be tracked such as the transfer of raw milk into a pasteurisation vessel or milk powder being transferred from a spray dryer to a silo, the product may have to be discarded.


Adding to this, in a study from Climate Central, it is found that 80 percent of outages between 2003 and 2012 occurred because of harsh weather conditions and electrical shortages are not the only key reason for automation outages.


Therefore, it is critical for manufacturers to protect their equipment from losing data as a result of unexpected outages that arise from both harsh weather conditions and electrical shortages. And through ABB’s uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems, power can be continuously supplied to the equipment even when there is a primary power supply failure. This reduces the possibility of food getting stuck on production lines and ensures that performance data is not disrupted.


Also, the PCS100 UPS-I from ABB has been designed with a fail-safe electro-mechanical bypass that ensures protection against events that threaten the quality of the power supply. By protecting sensitive loads from sags, surges and outages through an ultra-capacitor or battery energy storage, the  PCS100 UPS-I  can provide continuous power supply in food and beverage plants. Even for applications that experience frequent disruptions because of voltage variations, like high-speed packaging lines.


Although UPS systems are generally designed to shield a facility’s system from short-term variations in the power supply. In the event of an extended outage, a UPS system can allow the computer centre staff to shut down critical equipment safely, while ensuring that data integrity is maintained. Therefore, UPS systems provide an important function in unexpected situations and should be used as a means of protecting mission-critical equipment for food manufacturers. This is especially true for manufacturers processing products that require accurate levels of traceability.