We put in a UPS system several years ago and we have annual maintenance done on it. Why should we be concerned?
It depends upon the age & generation of both your UPS and battery plant, as well as your diesel generation plant, if applicable. UPS service technicians are not reliability engineers, neither are generator techs. If something breaks, they fix it. Most good service organizations should have test equipment capability to detect a recent failure or an immediately pending failure, but not conditions or design obsolescence undermining critical facilities performance. Almost every one of the 3 phase UPS systems, and even genset, which failed during the great blackout of August 2003 was under some kind of service agreement.
What exactly is a "TurnKey"?
A TurnKey equipment installation is a complete package of product and services allowing the client to write a single purchase order, then come back and "turn the key" on a fully installed & tested mission-critical power system. In the case of a UPS installation, the scope of work often includes demolition/de-installation of existing infrastructure, design services, drawings, permits, equipment specification & procurement of UPS technology as well as battery or flywheel system, shipping, rigging, seismic installation (if applicable), wiring, HVAC modification (if applicable), start-up, testing, training and warranty services.
Why would I elect to have M C West do a TurnKey installation? Shouldn't I have one of the big engineering firms do some feasibility & design review studies first?
That depends upon time, budget and availability goals. If your site is truly mission-critical and has an extreme uptime requirement (i.e. - stock brokerage, credit card processing, etc), due diligence requires considerable design review & reliability analysis stages. M C West often participates in such exercises in peer review position. But if your site is in that much more common category of "5 -9's" availability, with limited budget and/or time, you may want to consider TurnKey. It is not uncommon to see facilities engage in a large study, only to see the budget for the UPS itself disappear while the study sits on a shelf. A TurnKey UPS installation (from M C West) is almost always less expensive and much faster than separating design & installation services. Not insignificantly, there is also no "finger pointing" - always just one phone call to make!
What advantage can M C West offer on site audits, reliability studies, feasibility or design review studies, etc compared to the big guys?
Mission Critical West will normally out-price and out-perform large, multi-disciplined firms on pure power quality work. The reason is simple. We don't have to support the large overhead costs mandatory with these firms, nor do we get distracted by routine TI, general construction or commercial A&E work. Our principals have actually trained the PQ experts in many if not most of these firms on UPS technology, battery, static switching, genset and flywheel issues.
I've heard many PQ consultants are really manufacturers representatives.
That creates a bias problem in my mind. Is M C West?
No. We are completely independent.
Is power quality disturbance monitoring worthwhile?
Almost always. The reason is that disturbances come in all sizes & shapes, some utility generated, some site or load generated. The solution for a harmonics or inrush sag problem may not be the solution for an intermittent outage problem. We can help determine exactly what the issues are and what the most cost-effective solution is.
You are one of the world's foremost experts on battery and flywheel technologies. Which would you chose?
As it so often happens, that depends. Determining factors include site life projection, reliability & availability need, utility disturbance pattern (DC cycling), space issues, generator configuration, etc. In some cases, an expensive flooded battery design may be mandated, in others a low operating cost flywheel, in still others a low first cost sealed battery system. A quick study by our design team would normally determine direction & cost.
Do I have to engage in a major contract with M C West? Our operation isn't that large but we do want some assurance that we are not putting ourselves at unnecessary risk.
While we do project work under negotiated lot price terms, we also offer per diem terms to those clients who have either limited budget or wish a get-to-know-you period prior to major contract signing.
Is redundancy always the answer to higher levels of availability?
Redundancy certainly plays a part in reliability and availability analysis but most people would be surprised just how often we recommend non-redundant elements of critical facilities infrastructure. Determination of what elements should and should not be considered for redundancy, as well as the choice of vendor for each, fall out of M C West's databank of actual as well as theoretical MTBF (failure) and resultant MTTR (repair time) data.
I've had bad experiences in past projects where the top principal came out to "sell" us on the firm then the work got subordinated to a junior engineer after we signed. Will this happen with you?
No. We are small enough that our Managing Principal, Dennis DeCoster, or another fully qualified Principal whose name & resume you will know prior to signing, will either personally oversee your project, or we will simply not accept the work until such time as we can assure such supervision.
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