Understanding our Customer’s Business - as Important as Understanding the Load
bySnyde12-13-201308:07 AM - edited 12-13-201312:37 PM
A critical element in developing an effective UPS solution is gaining a deep understanding of not only critical loads, but also the overall business needs and growth plans for the customer. Every site has unique power needs, obstacles to overcome, and definitions of success, so the more one is seen as a partner who understands the plan for the business, the better opportunity there is to achieve the goals and lay the foundation for future electric power needs.
Taking the complete solution approach to a project can provide benefits which are far greater than the sum of its parts. For example, recently a Cat® dealer in the Midwestern U.S. was approached by a consultant working with a healthcare facility looking to implement a UPS solution for an outpatient treatment center with numerous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scanning systems. While the manufacturers of these machines typically recommend the purchase of a specific UPS from a specific manufacturer for each diagnostic unit, this distributed approach can create overcapacity and result in unnecessary complexity and substantially greater costs. Many healthcare centers take this strategy regardless of the drawbacks, due to the misconception that not doing so may void the product warranties.
By working with the consultant, the Cat team presented a holistic approach that considers how MRI and CT machines typically consume power, how the equipment’s operation impacts the power needs of the treatment center as a whole, and the customer’s plans for growth. We recommended a centralized UPS sized to take into account the large power spikes which occur when images are being taken while still providing a UPS that would operate in an optimal efficiency range during normal operation. The overall plan also included provisions for growth and potential changes in imaging technology. By approaching the situation from a holistic viewpoint, Caterpillar could offer a comprehensive UPS solution that delivers greater overall value at a lower cost.
In other opportunities, we have found that not all “critical” power needs are equally critical, and a solution that recognizes and supports priorities can be effective and reduce costs. While working with a large co-location provider who provides infrastructure services to support their customers’ data center needs worldwide, we determined that flexibility in a system configuration could enable the co-location provider to offer their customers varied levels of support based on the critical nature of their equipment. For example, systems that support an enterprise’s e-commerce operations and website have substantially higher uptime requirements than servers used to backup company data once every night.
A multi-tiered solution was proposed that would allow the data center to offer its customers the option of assigning different uptime priorities based on their customer’s needs, with each tier utilizing a distinct UPS configuration that could be configured through the use of intelligent switchgear. This solution allowed the data center to vary the levels of protection and uptime guarantees offered to its clients, and ultimately offer a customized solution that fully accommodates business needs and available budgets.
By fully understanding the data center’s business model and customer value proposition, we were able to offer a modular approach that would address the immediate needs of the co-location provider and their clients, offer short-term cost savings, and provide long-term flexibility for future growth and changes.
When it comes to UPS solutions, it is as critical to understand the customer’s business as it is the customer’s load. Every industry has its own challenges, and every business is unique. Wherever we go around the world, we have found that discussions with customers about their business needs and plans are critical for optimizing solutions that meet the demands of today and anticipate their requirements in the future.
We would like to hear about your experiences with system designs:
- How have you implemented a “non-standard” solution to enhance a business opportunity?
- Have you found more customers open to new concepts, given the focus on efficiency and reduced capital budgets?
- How does your current infrastructure restrict what you would like to do with your business?
- When implementing a UPS solution, how often do you enhance the UPS performance through integration with other products such as ATS, switchgear, and generator sets?