Wednesday, 20 December 2017

HOW CAN MANUFACTURERS BEST PROTECT THEIR POWER SUPPLY?

The uptake of digital technology, the government’s upcoming Industrial Strategy and strong export demand all add up to an expanding manufacturing sector here in the UK. However, this increase in demand will no doubt lead to added pressure on UK power supply, so it becomes more important than ever to have robust power infrastructure in place.
THE IMPACT OF DOWNTIME
Downtime can come at a significant cost for manufacturers, with some statistics showing that just one unplanned event can cost in the region of GBP £1.6m.
What’s more, the UK is reported as the worst-performing economy in Europe when it comes to productivity, so it is even more critical to keep downtime to a minimum.
At a large-scale manufacturing plant, for example, a power shutdown or breakdown in the supply of monitoring/control information can have a disastrous effect on productivity which ultimately could impact on a business’ bottom line.
Therefore, industrial processes should be fully protected to ensure productivity remains at its best, as well as risks and cost implications around machinery failure are reduced.
RELIABLE POWER SUPPLY
There are a number of measures that manufacturers can take to ensure continuous power – an uninterruptible power supply (commonly referred to as UPS) being one of them. A UPS device will not only protect against power outages, but also provide instant emergency power should the mains power fail.
The UPS will run for a few vital minutes to allow safe shutdown, ensuring that all data is backed up and that the generator has fired up properly and is providing power. But when you consider that 45% of blackouts typically occur due to voltage disturbances, the UPS is also a vital piece of equipment to correct power problems.
Manufacturing machinery is vulnerable to numerous electrical anomalies – from voltage sags and spikes to harmonic distortion and other interruptions. In this situation, a UPS can really come into its own – not only to protect against power outages, but also to operate as an effective power conditioning unit.
By smoothing out sags, surges and brownouts to provide a clean and stable power supply, the UPS prevents damage to sensitive and expensive equipment.
In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, when producing a batch of a very expensive drugs in glass or in a semiconductor, a small dip in the voltage will cause an imperfection in the finished product making it unusable and could even result in the batch being discarded altogether.
Even in steel or brick production, if there is a micro break in the power that causes the furnace controllers to shut down, the process has to be stopped. The material being processed will be scrapped and the whole process started again, which can take days and be very costly.
The UPS can also be deployed solely as a power conditioner without batteries, which will come in handy in environments over 40°C, which is the highest temperature a battery can be kept in.
An example of this is ‘cleaning’ power to prevent light flicker in offices next to heavy industry – cranes moving cargo at docks, for instance. In this situation, a UPS can act as a power conditioner on the power supply to the offices, preventing any flickering.
PROTECTING THE INDUSTRY
As we enter this exciting period of growth and see greater uptake of digital technologies, it is wise for those working in the industrial sector to take a step back and make sure their processes and equipment is as protected as it can be.
Manufacturers can do this by having a solid power protection solution in place in the form of a UPS device. This will not only give you peace of mind if machinery does fail, but will give the added reassurance that instances of downtime will be reduced, paving the way for a stronger manufacturing future.
Guest blog by Leo Craig, general manager of Riello UPS.  For more information, please email l.craig@riello-ups.co.uk or call 0800 269394



Thursday, 14 December 2017

Vertiv Anticipates Advent of Gen 4 Data Centre in Look Ahead to 2018 Trends

The next-generation data centre will exist beyond walls, seamlessly integrating core facilities with a more intelligent, mission-critical edge of network. These Gen 4 data centres are emerging and will become the model for IT networks of the 2020s. The advent of this edge-dependent data centre is one of five 2018 data centre trends identified by a global panel of experts from Vertiv, formerly Emerson Network Power.

“Rising data volumes, fuelled largely by connected devices, has caused businesses to reevaluate their IT infrastructures to meet increasing consumer demands,” said Giordano Albertazzi, president of Vertiv in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Although there are a number of directions companies can take to support this rise, many IT leaders are opting to move their facilities closer to the end-user – or to the edge. Whatever approach businesses take, speed and consistency of service delivered throughout this phase will become the most attractive offering for consumers.”

Previous Vertiv forecasts identified trends tied to the cloud, integrated systems, infrastructure security and more. Below are five trends expected to impact the data centre ecosystem in 2018:

  1. Emergence of the Gen 4 Data Centre: Whether traditional IT closets or 1,500 square-foot micro-data centres, organisations increasingly are relying on the edge. The Gen 4 data centre holistically and harmoniously integrates edge and core, elevating these new architectures beyond simple distributed networks.

This is happening with innovative architectures delivering near real-time capacity in scalable, economical modules that leverage optimised thermal solutions, high-density power supplies, lithium-ion batteries, and advanced power distribution units. Advanced monitoring and management technologies pull it all together, allowing hundreds or even thousands of distributed IT nodes to operate in concert to reduce latency and up-front costs, increase utilisation rates, remove complexity, and allow organisations to add network-connected IT capacity when and where they need it.

  1. Cloud Providers Go Colo: Cloud adoption is happening so fast that in many cases cloud providers can’t keep up with capacity demands. In reality, some would rather not try. They would prefer to focus on service delivery and other priorities over new data centre builds, and will turn to colocation providers to meet their capacity demands.

With their focus on efficiency and scalability, colos can meet demand quickly while driving costs downward. The proliferation of colocation facilities also allows cloud providers to choose colo partners in locations that match end-user demand, where they can operate as edge facilities. Colos are responding by provisioning portions of their data centres for cloud services or providing entire build-to-suit facilities.

  1. Reconfiguring the Data Centre’s Middle Class: It’s no secret that the greatest areas of growth in the data centre market are in hyperscale facilities – typically cloud or colocation providers – and at the edge of the network. With the growth in colo and cloud resources, traditional data centre operators now have the opportunity to reimagine and reconfigure their facilities and resources that remain critical to local operations.

Organisations with multiple data centres will continue to consolidate their internal IT resources, likely transitioning what they can to the cloud or colos while downsizing and leveraging rapid deployment configurations that can scale quickly. These new facilities will be smaller, but more efficient and secure, with high availability – consistent with the mission-critical nature of the data these organisations seek to protect.

In parts of the world where cloud and colo adoption is slower, hybrid cloud architectures are the expected next step, marrying more secure owned IT resources with a private or public cloud in the interest of lowering costs and managing risk.

  1. High-Density (Finally) Arrives: The data centre community has been predicting a spike in rack power densities for a decade, but those increases have been incremental at best. That’s changing. While densities under 10 kW per rack remain the norm, deployments at 15 kW are not uncommon in hyperscale facilities – and some are inching toward 25 kW.

Why now? The introduction and widespread adoption of hyper-converged computing systems is the chief driver. Colos, of course, put a premium on space in their facilities, and high rack densities can mean higher revenues. And the energy-saving advances in server and chip technologies can only delay the inevitability of high density for so long. There are reasons to believe, however, that a mainstream move toward higher densities may look more like a slow march than a sprint. Significantly higher densities can fundamentally change a data centre’s form factor – from the power infrastructure to the way organisations cool higher density environments. High-density is coming, but likely later in 2018 and beyond.

  1. The World Reacts to the Edge: As more and more businesses shift computing to the edge of their networks, critical evaluation of the facilities housing these edge resources and the security and ownership of the data contained there is needed. This includes the physical and mechanical design, construction and security of edge facilities as well as complicated questions related to data ownership. Governments and regulatory bodies around the world increasingly will be challenged to consider and act on these issues.

Moving data around the world to the cloud or a core facility and back for analysis is too slow and cumbersome, so more and more data clusters and analytical capabilities sit on the edge – an edge that resides in different cities, states or countries than the home business. Who owns that data, and what are they allowed to do with it? Debate is ongoing, but 2018 will see those discussions advance toward action and answers.

About Vertiv:

Vertiv designs, builds and services critical infrastructure that enables vital applications for data centres, communication networks and commercial and industrial facilities. Formerly Emerson Network Power, Vertiv supports today’s growing mobile and cloud computing markets with a portfolio of power, thermal and infrastructure management solutions including the Chloride®, Liebert®, NetSure™ and Trellis™ brands. Sales in fiscal 2016 were $4.4 billion.

Guest blog by Vertiv.  For more information, please visit VertivCo.com or contact Hannah Sharland on +44 (0) 2380 649832 or email Hannah.Sharland@vertivco.com

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

RBS: Online Banking Partly to Blame for 62 Closures

Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS) decision to close 62 mostly rural branches in Scotland has been met with plenty of protests amongst both customers and activist groups. RBS says that online banking is partly to blame for the closures, but at least one citizen's group doesn't believe them. They are accusing RBS of closing the branches strictly out of greed.

It is always a touchy situation when a large company with an extensive list of brick-and-mortar locations decides to close some of their local outlets. In the RBS case though, the sting of closing 62 branches is much more painful due to the bank's promise – a promise they reiterated many times in years past – that they would not close a branch even if they were the last bank in town.

That promise is at the forefront of action being taken by the Unite union to try to force RBS to maintain the status quo. Unite is hoping Scotland's government will get behind their efforts as well. The Scottish government is a part owner in RBS.

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse initially responded to the Unite request by reminding those concerned that authority over banking remains the domain of the UK government. There's not much the Scottish government can do other than work with customers and citizen groups to try to convince RBS to change its course of action.

Dwindling Customer Use


For their part, RBS has said that closing the local branches is the result of changes to how people are using bank services. Prior to the internet age, the local bank branch was the lifeblood of both retail and commercial banking transactions. That is no longer the case.

RBS maintains that the number of customers making use of branches in Scotland has dropped by nearly half over the last five years. In announcing the closures, the bank noted that branch use had fallen by 44% over last five years while mobile banking has increased 39% in just the last two years.

Should RBS go ahead with its plans, customers will not be left without banking solutions. The bank says that customers would still have access to a community banker or mobile branch. RBS customers will be able to continue accessing bank services online as well.

So the question is this: are the closures really all about money as Unite contends, or is RBS justified in trying to cut its operating expenses by eliminating branches that are now seeing half as much traffic as they were seeing back in 2012? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.

The internet age is a wonderful age in which to live. However, the expansion of online access is not without its drawbacks. It is not reasonable for us to expect an organisation to make themselves as efficient as possible through online means while, at the same time, continuing to do things in older, less efficient ways to satisfy those unwilling to embrace the new. We cannot move forward without leaving something behind.