Redundant design – the essentials on how it can help you
A huge number of sectors count on reliable power distribution for uninterrupted operations – from industrial facilities to data centres and healthcare institutions.
However, no matter how advanced your equipment and procedures, you’re still likely to find yourself dealing with a power output at some stage, whether that’s due to natural disasters, unexpected equipment failures, or other circumstances, many of which are almost impossible to guard against.
Although actually… not quite impossible. That’s where the principle of ‘redundant design’ comes in. Here’s a bit more about what that entails, and why it’s worth considering when you’re looking at the most efficient setup for your power distribution boxes.
What is redundant design?
Essentially, redundant design refers to creating systems with duplicate components or backup mechanisms to minimise the risk of failure. In terms of power distribution, redundant designs typically include redundant power sources, distribution paths, and critical components, such as transformers and switchgear.
Redundant design encompasses several elements – including power sources, distribution paths, and components. Let’s take a brief look at each one in turn.
Redundant power sources
One reliable way to ensure uninterrupted operation is to implement redundant power sources into your operations. This often involves connecting critical infrastructure to multiple power grids, or utilising backup generators – which can go a long way to helping you mitigate the impact of grid failures or localised outages.
Backup generators are typically fuelled by diesel, natural gas, or propane and can sustain operations for extended periods, ensuring business continuity until primary power is restored. They’re sometimes deployed alongside Uninterruptible Power Supply systems, which instantaneous backup power during brief outages and provide sufficient time for backup generators to start during extended outages. UPS units are often deployed in conjunction with critical equipment to maintain continuous operation without interruption.
Redundant distribution paths
Redundant distribution paths provide alternative routes for power to reach its destination. This can involve deploying parallel distribution lines, ensuring diverse routing through substations, or utilising automatic transfer switches (ATS) to seamlessly switch between primary and backup distribution paths.
That means if there’s a fault in the main distribution path – such as a broken circuit – it’s still possible to get power to critical systems, ensuring that you don’t have to worry about expensive downtime while you’re getting the issue repaired. (This is where our own power distribution boxes can come in useful, providing you with a useful means to create alternate distribution paths.)
Even the best-made critical components such as transformers, circuit breakers, and surge protectors can sometimes be susceptible to failure, especially after extended service in particularly intensive commercial or industrial environments.
That’s why it’s a good idea to incorporate redundant variants of these components, either in active standby or hot standby configurations, to ensure continuity of service in the event of a component failure. Regular maintenance and testing are crucial to ensure the readiness of redundant components.
Testing, testing, testing
We’d be remiss not to mention this! Once your redundant systems and backup solutions are installed, it’s still crucial to put them through regular testing to ensure their long-term reliability and peace of mind. The best way to do this of course is by arranging scheduled testing of backup systems, including generators, UPS units, and transfer switches, which verifies their readiness to assume the load during an actual outage.
Ideally, your testing should simulate various scenarios, including partial and complete failures, to identify and address potential weaknesses.
Once you’ve arranged a service interval, it’s best to ensure that you and your team stick to this as best you can. Otherwise, you’ll be fixing problems as and when they occur. This is often referred to as ‘reactive maintenance’, and it’s by far the least efficient way of doing things. Sticking to an organised schedule, on the other hand, is referred to as preventative maintenance. It gives you an opportunity to spot problems developing early, before they develop into more serious issues, and so can save you a lot of time, hassle and cost in the long run.
And of course, if you ever need to replace a rubber box – or buy more to accommodate the expansion or security of your operations – then you’re in exactly the right place.
We stock a wide range of power distribution equipment at Rubber Box, including our standard ranges and various bespoke products. For over 20 years, we’ve been a market leader and well-respected name within the industry, supplying electric power distribution boxes and equipment to some of the largest venues and events in the UK and over 30 countries worldwide.