Don't risk falling foul of unmaintained legacy electrical systems
All industries require access to reliable, uninterrupted power as well as robust dependable contingency measures to fall back on in the event of a failure. Yet, despite the importance placed on maintaining the supply of energy, Siemens says UK manufacturers are failing to recognise the risks posed by critical ageing electrical energy assets.
Manufacturers are being cautioned: more needs to be done to strengthen energy resilience plans, if the challenges of tomorrow are to be met.
“Critical electrical power equipment, which has accumulated over decades, forms a significant backbone of today’s manufacturing industry. Either housed in a single location or clustered across multiple sites, a complex patchwork of modern and legacy technologies makes up the electrical systems powering UK manufacturing.
Interspersed throughout the country, these engineering assets have been added to, adapted, maintained and repaired or replaced over time; all are at "various stages and states of health in a sprawling complicated picture of electrical systems,” says Toby Horne, senior lead for Siemens Energy Resilience, a multi-discipline practice in the UK with a remit to help businesses formulate a more strategic, comprehensive and innovative approach to energy resilience and modern power systems.
Continues Horne: “These systems are supplying energy to, in almost all cases, mission-critical operations, but years of reactive maintenance, planned or emergency repairs, and differing or inconsistent service practices, have made it near impossible, for a significant proportion of businesses, to accurately gauge how these electrical assets are actually shaping up.
"Many are not aware of whether their systems can handle even greater demands; others are simultaneously grappling with an energy transition that is adding supply diversification, on-site energy production and decarbonisation targets to their sites – posing additional risks, more points of failure and ever more pressure.”
On how businesses can build more energy resilience into their critical power infrastructure, he says: “A lack of visibility makes it difficult to see and understand the level of risk within your power infrastructure, but the outcome of downtime is severe – interruption to operations, damage to reputation, unforeseen costs accrued (in fines or revenues) or even a risk-to-life – requiring a more a proactive stance, instead of the conventional view through a maintenance lens.
"Risk can never be eliminated, but the right resilience strategy, supported by a knowledgeable and trusted partner, can manage and mitigate the threats.”