It’s that time again. Most of the country has or will soon be going head-to-head with Old Man Winter 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 Your Company’s Critical Power Priorities
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. Identify your organization’s critical systems and what kind of backup power they’ll require, then work your way down.
Develop a Backup Power Plan
Now that you have a critical system priority list, 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 keep your critical equipment running while the grid is down, 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.
Have a Backup Generator on Standby
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. In that case, it’s vital to have a rental agreement for backups with a local vendor.
Routine Maintenance is a Must!
Going forward (when Old Man Winter ISN’T knocking down your door), 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.
Ensure Continuity and Communication
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?
It’s also important to communicate with customers through your website and social media channels. Admittedly, between keeping your business’s critical systems and employees safe, you’ll have a lot going on. But customers will still want information and answers. View this severe weather situation as an opportunity to connect with customers – express your gratitude and show you care.
Always-on Power with CEG
Not sure if your backup power plan can stand up to the harsh weather coming your way? CEG can help. We can assess your environment and review your emergency power plan (or create one if necessary). We will present solutions that not only ensure uptime but are also cost- and energy-efficient. And we can provide the annual maintenance your critical power setup needs to be in fighting shape! CONTACT US today to start planning and preparing for that next severe weather standoff!