Having Problems With Power Outages?

Power outages are often unavoidable. Just ask Paul Van Metre, vice president of marketing and sales at Pro CNC ( Columns From: 1/1/2008 Modern Machine Shop, Derek Korn ,

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Derek Korn

Power outages are often unavoidable. Just ask Paul Van Metre, vice president of marketing and sales at Pro CNC (www.procnc.com). I visited this Bellingham, Washington shop to profile its use of basic franchising concepts to maximize efficiency (Creating A Machine Shop Franchise Template). Unfortunately, Pro CNC has lost power to its facility on a number of occasions. In fact, the electricity went out as my visit for the story drew to a close.

Here are some tips Mr. Van Metre provides to make a power outage less painful.

  1. Start with surge protection. Surge protectors are cheap and will protect sensitive equipment. However, the hassle of restarting your CNC machines remains.
  2. Connect all computers to an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). A UPS is essentially a battery with a circuit board controlling the power that flows through and around it. Mr. Van Metre suggests avoiding the small ones—they won’t help at all. Calculate computer and monitor power usage and purchase a UPS that will provide at least 5 minutes of reserve power to allow you to save and close programs. Be sure monitors are connected to the UPS, too. You want to be able to see what you’re doing on the computer in the event of an outage, right?
  3. Set your software programs to auto-save. Nothing is more frustrating than losing a couple hours worth of toolpath generation.
  4. Install industrial surge suppression if you can afford it. A company-wide suppression system at the main electrical panel may seem expensive, but if you consider what it would cost to replace the main controller boards on a couple of CNC machines, the suppression system starts to look affordable.
  5. A company-wide, UPS/backup generator system provides the ultimate in protection. With that said, it can also be cost-prohibitive for all but the largest shops.
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