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21 April 2018
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Developing a contingency plan for power outages or cooling plant disruptions can help ensure a drama doesn’t turn into a disaster, says Aggreko’s Lewis Scremin.

Credit: Istock

9 January 2017 | Lewis Scremin

Financial loss, safety risks and reputational damage can all be minimised by developing a robust contingency plan for rapidly switching to emergency rental power and temperature control equipment.

Disaster recovery planning enables FMs to plan and implement a transitory fix quickly, while a long-term solution is found. Here are some points to consider when preparing a contingency plan for the successful and speedy integration of back-up power and temperature control equipment.

1. Use historical data to predict

You can forecast some emergencies, such as National Grid capacity constraints or extreme weather patterns. But also use historical system efficiency data to plan ahead. For example, if your cooling plant is prone to inefficiencies and breakdowns during higher ambient temperatures in summer, plan to procure additional cooling capacity in advance.


2. Survey your power and HVAC needs and find the ‘weak spots’ 

Create a site map showing the location of all equipment and identify the most common points of failure. Remember not to get over-focused on dealing with power failures alone: consider your HVAC and refrigeration plant too and any other equipment that is critical to the continuity of your business.

Ask ‘what if?’ questions. What if the switchgear fails or you have a voltage spike in your grid supply? What if the plant room floods?  What if the cooling tower gets contaminated? Scenario planning is crucial to effective contingency planning – helping you to pinpoint where your weak spots are and identify critical areas where system failure simply isn’t an option. 

3. Ask the right questions

Make sure your contingency plan focuses on the detail. When considering power requirements for a facility, assess voltage, peak power loads, shared loads, UPS harmonics, motor-start requirements and configurations. Make sure you take account of any special requirements, such as high voltage power, transformer locations, grid connections, space and access restrictions.

4. Get technical

Specifying temperature control equipment can often be more complex. Considerations include:

- System pressure and flow rates: The flow rate and pressure of your system informs the rental equipment that is required.  High-pressure systems will require specialist system designs to handle it.

- Type of fluid coolant: While most systems contain glycol or water, some hold thermal fluids with high flashpoints or brine fluids that are highly corrosive. In such situations specialist rental equipment would be required that needs to be identified as part of your plan.

- Does your pipework need modifying to allow temporary equipment to tie into it? If linking rental equipment into the current cooling system is not possible, specify a a standalone solution.

5. Ensure continuity

Check any rental equipment has 24/7 remote monitoring to help prevent failures from occurring. Remote monitoring will keep watch on the technology and relay critical information from fuel levels and diagnostic checks to load monitoring.

For sites where mains supply is unreliable, generators can be set up with an automatic mains failure (AMF) panels. This will monitor incoming power from the mains grid and in the event of a dip in power supply, the generator automatically takes over the load. AMF panels can be used alone with generators or to ensure a regular power supply to rental temperature control equipment.

Factor in continuous fuel supply to your site and a siting plan for your fuel tanks. Better still, select generator sets with integrated tanks. Coordinate fuel management and agree if this will be managed by the equipment supplier or your own team.