It’s that time again. From hurricanes to heat waves, some of the most volatile months of weather are fast approaching and the forecast is clear: businesses must prepare now to ensure they remain productive and operational. While a power outage of any length can be disruptive to operations, having a plan to address long-term power loss should be part of any solid business continuity strategy. Here’s a few tips and best practices to get your plan started and minimize potential impacts:
Assess the specific needs and pain points of your company. Although virtually every business supports equipment that requires electricity, what they define as “critical systems” can be quite different. A grocery store may consider their HVAC system critical to prevent perishable food losses, while an insurance company’s priority may be their network servers. Your backup power plan should start with protecting your critical systems, then work your way down.
Establish a communication plan. During an extended outage, it’s important to be able to communicate with employees, customers, and vendors. Yet during California’s October 2019 power shutoff, and Texas’ 2021 winter storm, many cellphone towers were offline and overwhelmed. With that in mind, define procedures ahead of time for alternate modes of communication and how to best get the word out.
Define how long you want to remain up and running using backup power. Determine the criticality of your business processes for blackouts of varying lengths—24 hours, 48 hours, a full week, etc. ── so your power outage continuity plan will cover all possibilities.
Develop a backup power plan. Now that you recognize the need to protect sensitive equipment and know how long it all needs to keep running during a sustained outage, it’s time to plan. Ideally ALL the following steps should be part of your emergency power plan:
Invest in a UPS
If you believe that investing in an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) System is an unnecessary expense or that cloud backup is sufficient, think again! Not only does a UPS enable employees to save files and ensure the backup process has been completed, but it also provides the time needed to turn off equipment. If devices are on when the power goes out, they will all turn back on at once when power is restored ── leaving equipment extremely vulnerable to damaging power surges or overloading a still-recovering electrical circuit. In fact, one of the greatest causes of equipment damage from outages is the electrical surges that occur when power is restored.
If possible, have a backup generator onsite.
Standby generators, which can keep critical applications operating without interruption, range from small devices that can fit into a Home Depot shopping cart to giant machines requiring transport by a semi-truck. Ideally, you should have a backup generator permanently onsite, but sometimes your building’s code or electricity distribution may prevent you from having this.
Have a contract in place for a rental UPS or generator.
Even if you have a UPS and emergency generator onsite, you should still have a rental agreement for backups with a local vendor. Think of it as an insurance policy. You may never need it… but better safe than sorry.
Get routine maintenance done on your entire backup system.
Your UPS should be visually inspected quarterly and cleaned semiannually. A full scan and operational test of the system and its batteries should be performed each year. The same goes for a permanent backup generator, it should also be inspected and tested quarterly as part of a maintenance agreement.
Set procedures for other functions. After ensuring the safety and operation of your most critical systems, turn your attention to other fundamental business aspects. For instance, how long will you ask employees to wait to see if the power comes back on? If a lengthy outage is anticipated, will they work remotely or go to a pre-arranged temporary place of business?
Ensure Always-on Power with CEG
A thorough understanding of your business and its most critical functions will help you design a winning strategy to survive extended power outages. But for those of you with other responsibilities besides IT or facility management, ensuring power for your critical systems might sound overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be.
If you’re needing to create a disaster recovery plan from scratch or want to assess a plan you already have in place, download our checklist. It’s a great place to start with a more in-depth set of guidelines. Your next step should be partnering with CEG.
We’ll take a comprehensive approach when assisting you with your critical power needs. We will assess your environment and review your emergency power plan (or create one if necessary), then we’ll present solutions that not only ensure uptime but are also cost- and energy-efficient. CONTACT US today to prepare your facility for any type of disruption Mother Nature may send your way.