Monitoring and servicing are two critical functions to ensure that your distributed UPS assets do the work they were supposed to do to maintain your critical assets. edge computing available applications. But when you have UPSs spread over dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of sites, managing them can be challenging due to geographic dispersion, lack of trained / dedicated staff, and mixed fleet ages / models.
Some companies choose to manage their fleet themselves, while others choose to outsource the functions to a third-party vendor or partner. There are both qualitative and quantitative trade-offs involved when deciding which approach makes sense to you. I recently published a white paper to discuss these monitoring and service considerations (White Paper 283, A Quantitative Comparison of UPS Monitoring and Service Approaches in Edge Environments), but I’ll summarize them here …
There are three important factors to consider when monitoring your UPS fleet on your own.
- Digital capabilities – Is each of your UPSs connected to the network (ie via NMC cards)? Although UPSs can be connected, sometimes they are not really connected due to a lack of resources and knowledge about UPSs at the sites.
- Staffing – make sure you have centralized resources (i.e. a NOC) that can be the virtual eyes of assets 24/7. When site personnel are relied upon to ensure systems are stable, critical alerts such as a beeping UPS or a flashing “battery replacement” LED can be overlooked because site personnel have other job responsibilities. main.
- Expertise– Staff members monitoring UPSs must be trained to know the appropriate actions to take when critical alarms occur.
Also, there are several factors that can affect your decision about whether to repair your UPS fleet yourself or outsource it to a partner or supplier. These include:
- Logistics to get technicians where they are needed – It can be a cost-prohibitive logistical nightmare to bring service technicians to each site for maintenance when the sites are geographically dispersed. It is important to assess your ability to manage the fleet in a timely manner when maintenance needs arise.
- Unpredictable expenses when systems fail – Internal staffing and truck shipping costs need to be well understood so that you can compare them to the cost of a maintenance contract with a partner or supplier. You also need to consider which business model is best suited to your business … sporadic maintenance expenses as failures or maintenance needs occur or predictable annual contract operating expenses representing all the service work required.
- Experience and confidence of the on-site personnel doing the work – Taking staff away from their main responsibilities at their sites (such as selling, managing inventory) to take care of maintenance tasks, such as changing a faulty battery, has both an opportunity cost that should be understood as a risk of downtime if the staff member is not too familiar with the system in which they work. Evaluate these costs and risks before deciding on the service approach.
- Complexity of the mixed age fleet – Generally, a fleet has different ages, from new UPSs to those that are nearing the end of their useful life. They can also be UPS of different models / sizes. This can make it difficult to understand maintenance needs. DCIM can help by providing an aggregated dashboard view of the fleet and alerting you to prioritized maintenance activity.
- Access to parts – Servicing the fleet yourself means managing access to the necessary parts. It is helpful to have regional distribution centers with spare parts to allow faster procurement.
A tool to compare the opex
Understanding the financial implications of this decision can be complex. We developed a web-based tool called Edge UPS Fleet Management Comparison Calculator, to help you see the potential cost differences of managing the fleet yourself versus outsourcing those functions to a partner or supplier. It allows you to enter details about the size, quantity, and age of your UPSs in the fleet, define the costs associated with your in-house staffing and trucking costs, as well as the cost of downtime, and then compare it against the cost of outsourcing the fleet. administration. This tool can also serve as a framework for discussing the variables that impact cost.
I encourage you to go ahead and test the tool yourself, as the answer is highly dependent on the attributes of your particular fleet and business costs. Outsourcing can save up to 40% in many cases (as the screenshot shows), but there are some cases where the cost difference is less. At White paper, we explain the methodology and assumptions of the tool, and also walk through four scenarios to demonstrate the key drivers of cost differences. Those key cost drivers are (1) age distribution, (2) cost of downtime, and (3) operating costs of managing the fleet yourself. So while the tool demonstrates that in many cases third-party management is a more profitable alternative, I encourage you to test it based on your own IT UPS distributed quotas.
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