Laboratory Power Quality and its affect on Analytical Equipment

There’s this little-known thing called power quality (or at least hardly anyone is talking about it).

When you learn what it is and how it can affect your business, huge changes can happen!

Years back, I worked as an Engineer for a large pharmaceutical lab. This was an FDA-regulated cGMP facility with well-known electrical issues. One lab alone had over 40 high-end chromatography instruments and spectrometers. Each summer the power would go out at least a half-dozen times, for about 2 minutes each time. The facility had a backup generator that would kick on in these cases.

So why is this a big deal if there was a generator? These units are not instantaneous and can lead to a power surge, wrong line voltage, poor grounding, high-frequency noise, and more!

old power lines and box

One particular outage stands out above the rest because it became the most expensive repair call I have ever been part of. The power went out in the lab and came back on after about a minute. Most of the systems had not been turned fully off and started rebooting. Or at least most of them did. Electrical components of some of the systems had been damaged (possibly a result of years of power quality issues).

When the dust settled, several high-dollar boards had to be replaced, certain computer components were fried, and the systems were out of service for weeks. Parts alone cost $85k, not including my labor costs, and everyone involved with paperwork and prequalification of the systems. One system had to be replaced completely.

Laboratory equipment on a bench

Does this sound like a nightmare scenario for your business?

Here’s the thing. It didn’t have to happen. What if I told you I had several conversations with leading management, suggesting certain devices that could be installed at each system to protect them from such failures? What if I also told you that the cost of this protection was less than the parts required for this one repair?

In the end, the proposal was turned down.

If my story resonates with you, I ask you to speak to our trusted power quality consultants at NXT Power. I have known the team for years and have grown to rely on their expertise and experience.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *