UPS Failure – Biotechnology Plant

Our work in identifying the cause of this UPS failure and implementing a mitigation design process resulted in the prevention of further catastrophic downtime events for this large multinational biotechnology facility

The Challenge

This multinational biotechnology facility suffered a UPS failure. We were tasked with identifying the critical single points of failure within the electrical distribution system using both state enumeration statistical analysis and failure mode evaluation analysis. Design mitigation to avoid waste in product was also required by the client.

How we helped

The problems we identified included:

  • a lack of monitoring on primary/secondary side of the UPS.
  • in the event of UPS failure maintenance staff are not notified.
  • lack of redundancy to supply UPS loads
  • harmonic orders on the secondary side of the UPS were failing IEC61000-2-4 permissible thresholds.
  • Potential for UPS shut down due to multiple zero crossings on the primary side of the UPS

Design Mitigation

  • Install fixed metering equipment on Pri/Sec side of UPS
  • Use PMS to auto transfer UPS into bypass in the event of PQ problems arising on the secondary
  • Integrated alarms/pager alerts for UPS, TXFR’s, Generators and VSD
  • Advise client on what equipment needed to be kept in stock – to reduce failure to repair time (FTRT)
  • Reduce potential downtime (calculated using statistical analysis) of 6 hours/year to 30 mins/year


"Regular power system studies (monitoring and modelling) coupled with failure mode evaluation analysis (FMEA) helped identify a critical weak point within the facilities electrical distribution system. Power system health checks gave early warning, which helped prevent potential downtime and financial loss of €2 million. Moving from fire fighting mode to a controlled position that prevents potential downtime allows for a more efficient, profitable and safer site."
Andrew Hogan, Senior Electrical Engineer

The Result

By implementing the solutions the client avoided a catastrophic event when the mains supply to the cold store failed. Shift technicians were able to respond immediately to restore full power to the cold store in under an hour, preventing a waste in product estimated to be in the region of €2m. Expected savings when the mitigation and study costs are taken into account was €1.9m.

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What We’ve Done