The United States is fortunate to have relatively reliable power. However “always-on” power doesn’t equate to clean power and our electrical system has grown antiquated. Over the past 40+ years there have been no significant advances in our power supply or the level of protection, and yet the electronic assets we deploy such as office equipment, ATMs, industrial automation, and medical devices continue to grow more digitally advanced.
Despite the growing sophistication of our assets and the age of our power system, modern electronic equipment continues to be manufactured with limited power protection. This causes our equipment to be vulnerable to damaging power grid activity that can cost billions of dollars in lost productivity and data, service and parts annually.
According to the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI), power disturbances cost U.S. industry as much as $188 billion per year in lost data, material and productivity. And, while natural disasters and major events may grab our attention, there are a countless number of uncontrollable variables taking place every day, externally on the power grid and internally within our buildings that are non-disaster related and affect the power supply. Even a minor voltage fluctuation or other disruption of the electrical signal can wreak havoc on electronic assets causing:
- Machine lockups and system malfunctions
- Board failures
- Premature equipment failures
- High service and parts costs
- Phantom errors
While most have historically viewed power variations and related vulnerabilities as easily solvable by protecting against lightning strikes and power outages, the truth is quite different, more severe in nature and far more technical. Of power related events that damage electronics, less than one-half of one percent are caused by voltage surges and spikes, and a small percentage of failures actually results from power outages themselves. These daily disturbances include a complex array of voltage sags, brownouts, overvoltages, power outages and voltage surges and spikes. No two disturbances are the same, and a single event or events overtime can be catastrophic to the lifespan and reliability of electronics.