Keeping Up With The Times – The Importance of Retrofitting

The pace of technological change is absolutely dizzying. Companies struggle to keep pace, and those who fail to do so, simply vanish. Depending on what business you’re in, keeping your company’s electrical systems up to par is essential for the survival of your business. If you only think about repairs and replacements when something breaks, you’ll likely spend more time than you’d care to thinking about electricity.

Increasingly, our economy is comprised of companies that live and die in the digital world. In cyberspace, data is everything, and that means that, by extension, power is everything. Digitally based companies cannot survive long in the face of a power outage, and given the nature of the products and services they provide, it should come as no great surprise that internet based companies report the cost of electricity as being one of their major expenses.

These then, form some of the biggest reasons you’ll see digitally based companies retrofitting their electrical equipment; to increase uptime, to decrease the chances of data loss, and to reduce cost. We’ll look at each of those in turn to see how retrofitting your existing equipment can play an important role in each, but before we do that, there’s one question to answer first, and that is:

Retrofit or replace?

Honestly, the only time you should ever consider outright replacement over retrofitting is if the equipment you’re using has already been fully depreciated and is nearing the end of its functionally useful life. The reason this is so is that wholesale replacement can be monstrously expensive. Not to say that electrical equipment retrofitting is cheap, because it can get quite costly too, but when compared to outright replacement, it is a bargain indeed. Short answer: Replace if you must, otherwise, retrofit!

Now, as to the two pillars above, let’s take them each in turn:

1) Increasing uptime and/or decreasing the chances of data loss: In these cases, you may need to consider retrofitting your older electrical equipment to take advantages of advances in things like smart grid technology, and/or to make your equipment compliant with new and changing regulations. In both cases, keeping your technology up to spec will leave you better able to weather any potential service interruption storm that might head your way, and it could even help you predict when they might occur and head them off (this is especially true in cases where you can make upgrades to better interface with the smart grid).

2) To reduce costs and/or prevent data loss: In these cases, retrofitting might make sense if it will allow you to install digitally controlled switches that can monitor your entire system end-to-end and reroute jobs in the event that one part of your system begins to struggle and starts looking like it could trigger an emergency shutdown.

Also, retrofitting might allow you to better interface your UPS and emergency backup power systems with your primary power systems so that they actually begin to kick in just before an outage (thus, further reducing the risk that any data will actually be lost until primary power can be restored). You may also see gains by taking advantage of intelligent switch design, dynamic voltage scheduling, and meta-scheduler manipulation, which will probably require at least some retrofitting of your current technology.

All this to say that there are valid and hugely important reasons to retrofit your electrical equipment to keep pace with changes in technology. Reasons that can directly impact your bottom line, making the benefits of doing so far outweigh the costs.