Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) acts as the primary power backup system during the events of blackouts, brownouts, and power surges till the backup generator or other secondary power backup kicks in. In the industrial sector, these systems with enhanced backup time are sometimes preferred over the generator, owing to its fast response and ability to condition the harmonics in the supply. Industrial UPS systems also provide the backup power for safe shutdown of the systems at times of longer blackout events, preventing loss of critical operational data. With the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) already buoying the adoption of various machine to machine, operator, and infrastructure communication system, also referred to as the M2X communication system, the need for power backup for these systems is witnessing a multifold growth to protect the equipment as well as safeguard the data generated. Advanced software has been developed and deployed to monitor the backup time of the UPS, which automatically initiates the shutdown process when the batteries are about to reach their lower threshold charge level. 

Avoiding critical M2X data loss due to power supply abnormalities

The gradual rise in the implementation of Industry 4.0, is driving the use of various machine-to-machine, machine-to-infrastructure, and machine-to-operator (M2X) communication systems. These low power systems incorporate very sensitive electronics, which are susceptible to damage due to sudden power outages, spikes, and other abnormalities in the supply, which are common in the industrial power supply lines due to various non-linear loads. With the rise in the deployment of technologically advanced machines in various industries, the demand for power backup is increasing at a rapid pace for uninterrupted communication between machines. The data exchanged during this communication is crucial for business operation, thus, UPS is being increasingly installed to serve as backup power for data storage and transmission system in the machines and infrastructure. New innovation in infrastructure technologies coupled with customer demand for more automated and self-controlled equipment will result in the growth of M2M communications. Equipment downtime in manufacturing plants owing to poor electrical power from the utility in various counties, power anomalies due to machine operation can be very costly and results in the entire assembly line being shut down for repairs. Thus, the requirement of UPS to protect against power interruptions is accelerating.

Challenges and competitive rivalry resulting in product development

Industrial UPS systems are expensive due to their premium build quality to withstand the ambient conditions and ability to handle higher cycles of power fluctuations. Apart from this, in areas where protection against power fluctuations is the primary requirement, active voltage conditioners stand as a preferable substitute to the UPS system and are available at significantly lower prices. Discrete UPS architecture incorporating DIN rail mount UPS and low rating UPS also poses a great challenge to the adoption of large rating online industrial UPS, when the requirement is confined to provide backup power to the decentralized control systems. However, the integration and management of numerous UPS system in the discrete supply architecture itself poses as a more tedious and challenging task.

The conventional large rating battery powered UPS systems are also witnessing a challenge from Diesel Rotary UPS, which despite of high cost is witnessing gradual adoption as a substitute to backup power supply network incorporating battery-based UPS systems used as the primary backup and diesel generators as a secondary backup. Diesel rotary UPS includes a diesel generator, flywheel energy storage system, and a diesel generator all in one package. Further, the lead-acid battery based UPS systems are now witnessing a new contender, the Li-ion UPS systems, which are more compact, feature higher energy capacity, and faster switching. In addition to this, modular UPS is a new trend in the industrial sector, which features unparalleled expandability options. This feature is availing significant opportunities to these UPS systems in the industrial sector, where the scale up and scale down of the primary power backup can be done with ease in accordance with the requirement arising during events of factory floor expansion, upgrades, addition of production capacities, and so on. 

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From the factory floor to the server rooms, the backup power requirement exists

Industry 4.0, does promote M2X communication, but it also promotes analytics, which requires computing hardware along with the data capture and communication equipment. The new era of smart manufacturing requires cloud or on-premise computing or hybrid computing architecture to process the raw data incoming from the factory floor. The on-premise servers are again backed up by the UPS systems, and in the case where cloud computing is used, UPS systems are used to provide backup to the IoT gateways or edge computing servers. The requirement of backup power does exist at various sites in a factory to prevent the loss of operational data, which is the major driver for the adoption of UPS in the industrial sector.

Are green initiatives and measures to lower carbon footprint a driver for industrial UPS?

Despite being capital intensive, the adoption of UPS systems as a substitute to diesel generators is trending in developed economies. Large rating UPS or systems with additional battery packs are being employed to compensate the need for diesel generator backup power during the events of longer blackouts, in order to lower the carbon emission from the generators. Apart from this, there is a shift towards the integration of UPS in the micro-grids, as a storage-cum-voltage stabilizing solution. In the telecom industry as well, the green tower initiatives are driving the demand of UPS systems with extended battery packs, for providing backing up to the grid independent as well as dependent towers during power surges, which were earlier dependent on diesel gensets. Thus, green initiatives and measures to lower the carbon footprint is indeed a driver for industrial UPS systems. 

Can government plans boost adoption?

The global industrial sector being currently riding on the tides of the fourth Industrial revolution is majorly based on the data-driven automated actions. This is creating a buoyance in demand of data collection, storage, and processing infrastructure, which needs to be protected from all sort of data loss incidents even those from sudden power losses. This is driving the demand for various types of backup power systems such as UPS systems, diesel or gasoline gensets, inverter-battery sets, and so on. The choice for backup is getting narrowed down to UPS systems due to its environment friendliness, faster switching time, low maintenance cost, and so on; along with the emphasis of lowering the carbon emissions. However, the adoption of these systems for industrial applications on a large scale, is still under a big question mark, especially in the developing economies. This is due to the lack of concrete plans on carbon emission control targets at present in these economies. However, with the growing involvement of the government to enforce the carbon emission targets and channel investments towards the development of the industrial clusters is set to assist the adoption of green backup power systems for industrial applications by multifold times in the upcoming future. 

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