By Steve Arel | Contributing writer, Digital Signage Today
Ultimately, businesses incorporate technology for one reason: to boost revenue. Digital signage, video walls and kiosks increasingly play a crucial role in a company’s operational strategies, enhancing the user experience, and attracting new customers. Business owners and managers consider such solutions critical – they must always be on and always doing their jobs.
While digital solutions are constructed solidly and equipped with the latest advances, they can — and do — break down. It’s imperative that downtime is minimized. An inoperable machine can create negative ripples throughout a business. “If a customer approaches a system and it’s not operating, they have a bad experience,” said Steve Lipnisky, Sales Director, North America for Xtreme Power Conversion, a leading provider of uninterruptible power systems and surge protection. “They’ll tell five or six people that it’s not working well, and it becomes a domino effect.”
Oftentimes, the culprit behind a down system is power. Power, of course, represents the lifeblood of every digital solution. When that power is zapped and screens go black, technology can no longer function properly and may lose valuable data. Powerful boxes known as uninterruptible power supplies, or a UPS, protect critical equipment from voltage disruptions to keep it running and protected.
Protects equipment and data
Outages happen all the time, even in the most stable of environments, cutting a machine’s link to its data repository. Even without a connection, a system still needs to be able to collect and save transaction figures. Otherwise, the business potentially loses sales, and the whole operational picture becomes fuzzy due to missing information.
An Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPS) acts as a much-needed surge protector, protecting equipment by preventing power spikes and surges likely causing fatal internal damage to critical parts. A UPS also provides protection when there is a power outage. These units produced by manufacturers like Xtreme Power are designed to eliminate hard shutdowns and provide continuous power, enabling transactions and critical functions to continue.
UPS also acts as a battery backup for technology. It can deliver power for a few minutes to a few hours – depending on the equipment’s load (wattage) – to enable units to function and if needed shut down in an orderly fashion to protect hardware and software. “The technology that companies use to enhance their digital strategy often comes with high price tags,” said Tom Ebner, President of Xtreme Power Conversion. “These are investments that need to be protected with a UPS.”
Longevity and durability
The expectation of a UPS is simple: The power can’t go down. Ever. That’s why manufacturers like Xtreme Power have added UPS’s containing lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries to their line up with a lifespan of up to 10 years, compared to standard batteries that wear down after only a couple of years. Lithium UPS units require less maintenance and fewer replacements, saving money for companies relying on technology. By contrast, typical lead acid UPS require battery replacement every couple of years, adding to labor costs and more frequent downtime.
In addition to a longer lifespan, lithium-equipped UPS’s have a higher cycle life and wider temperature tolerance than classic battery solutions. For instance Xtreme Power’s lithium J60 UPS can withstand up to 2000 discharge cycles and operate continuously at up to 104°F (40°C). A lithium UPS can go unnoticed to users. They’re slim and lightweight – Xtreme Power’s popular J60 model, for example, comes in at just 1.25 inches thick and 3.4 pounds – protected by a steel enclosure and can be anchored on a wall behind, inside an enclosure, or on the backside of the technology they support. Part of what makes them small and discrete are the lithium batteries, which typically are lighter and take up less space than the typical industry standard lead-acid batteries.
Enable remote access
Connectivity is important on a number of different levels. Customers first must decide what sort of connectivity works best for their products or services: hard wired or wireless. They then must ensure its stability. One pivotal point of network connectivity is that it provides a path for transactions to be processed. If that connection goes down for any reason, revenue is negatively impacted.
Connectivity also is important from the perspective of remote access of equipment and reports for owners who may be investors who — either by choice, logistics or distance — are not hands-on operators. A connected UPS enables remote shutdowns and the ability to restart receptacles when problems surface – especially at times when only a power reboot is necessary.
Remote access can save significant time and money for a customer. The ability the tap into a digital solution’s power source prevents companies from having to dispatch a technician to examine equipment, especially when the fix might only take a couple of minutes. Those overseeing the UPS can determine an issue, then reset the connection remotely and often resolve the problem without the customer even knowing one existed.
Maintain and increase revenue stream
Up-time means digital solutions are constantly working and processing transactions. They’re doing as intended: helping bolster the business’s financial footing. Just as important, an always-on solution contributes to customer satisfaction. A period of downtime – regardless of the length of time – can be embarrassing and frustrating to both the business and consumers.
That’s why a UPS increasingly represents as much a vital piece of digital solutions as the solutions themselves. It contributes directly to a company successfully executing its strategy around technology. In protecting equipment and ensuring uninterrupted operation, the design of a UPS demands less maintenance, which in turn, means less money being spent to fix problems related to digital systems.
“Businesses can purchase a lithium UPS, like the Xtreme Power J60, install it and expect it to last for the life of the equipment,” Lipnisky said.