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Why Site-Wide Power Resilience is Critical for Food and Drink Manufacturers

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Food and drink manufacturers are particularly vulnerable to a range of power disruptions that can severely impact their productivity and profitability. Even with back-up power in place, it may not provide you with the full power resilience your operations need to retain maximum productivity, particularly as your operations embrace Industry 4.0.

While most people will think of power disruption as being a blackout, these make up only a small percentage of potentially damaging power disruptions. Very short sags and spikes in your voltage can also significantly impact your operations and productivity. While an individual disruption event may last less than a second, the knock-on impact as Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) need resetting and control systems need bringing back online can quickly add up to major delays for your operations.

WHY POWER RESILIENCE IS KEY FOR FOOD AND DRINK MANUFACTURERS

All manufacturers are vulnerable to machine downtime, costing the UK manufacturing sector around £180 billion per year. However, the perishable nature of their products means food and drink manufacturers are particularly exposed. Competition to supply major retailers is intense, meaning any disruption that impacts your customers risks damaging relations, paying penalties or even losing contracts.

As food and drink manufacturers increasingly shift towards greater automation and connectivity, there is a trade-off between increased productivity and increased vulnerability. A single outage or equipment failure can have a profound impact on your operations.

Lastly, reputational damage is becoming an ever-increasing risk in the age of social media. Confidence amongst consumers in the UK food chain has been steadily decreasing, currently sitting at around 38%. For the European chain it is significantly lower, at just 7%. Power disruption that impacts on your ability to fulfil deliveries or compromises product quality are more damaging than ever.

BUILDING BETTER POWER RESILIENCE FOR FOOD AND DRINK MANUFACTURING

Even for food and drink manufacturers that have previously invested in power resilience measures, tight margins and slim profits often mean that technology and infrastructure is becoming quickly outdated. Even if you have emergency power in place to protect from a power cut, it may no longer be fit for purpose as your operations evolve in response to Industry 4.0.

Traditional Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) provide instantaneous, emergency power in the case of a power disruption, ensuring that even highly sensitive equipment is not disrupted by sudden changes or cuts in their power supply. While ideal for providing critical circuits with instantaneous backup power, many UPS systems now have two major drawbacks that mean it may no longer be the best power resilience solution for you. The first is the growing need for site-wide protection. The interconnected nature of Industry 4.0 means that even if your production line is protected, it could still be disrupted if other systems such as data servers or controls are knocked offline.

Secondly, the food and drink sector face more scrutiny than almost any other when it comes to their sustainability performance, both from retailers and consumers. Shoppers are increasingly aware of the carbon footprint of items they choose, and this is reflected by the changing objectives of retailers. Tesco have clearly committed to a net zero supply chain, while Asda, Lidl and Sainsbury’s are all members of a collective pledge to achieve a net zero supply chain by 2040.

Failing to demonstrate clear, measurable progress towards net zero increasingly risks losing contracts with some of your biggest potential customers. Traditional UPS systems typically suffer from around 10% energy waste, which directly contributes to your electricity bill, carbon emissions and undermines sustainability efforts.

A NEW, INNOVATIVE SOLUTION TO PROTECTING FOOD AND DRINK PRODUCTION

New, highly innovative UPS solutions now exist to addresses both of these problems. While capable of the same instantaneous emergency power in the event of a power disruption, these solutions protect your entire site infrastructure from power disruption, rather than just critical equipment.

Still a battery-based technology, this solution combines a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) with ultra-fast switching technology to support your site’s load within 10ms of a power disruption. These solutions are scaled to protect your entire site. The technology used means it not only avoids the standby power losses of traditional UPS (consuming around 95% less energy), but it also directly contributes to your net zero efforts in a number of ways. It can also improve the performance of on-site clean energy generation by storing renewable energy during periods of high generation for later use. With integrated microgrid control technology it can intelligently manage your site’s power flows to ensure you are generating and using energy when it is cheapest and cleanest.

For food and drink manufacturers that are facing squeezed profit margins and pressure from retailers to lower costs, your choice of power resilience solution may ultimately be a commercial one. While newer, innovative UPS typically has a higher upfront cost than other UPS systems, the additional flexibility and efficiency it offers often makes it a better long-term solution. The standby losses of a traditional UPS can run as high as £200,000 a year for a large installation, compared to just £5,000 per year the newer alternative. On top of this, battery storage offers the flexibility to adapt your energy management strategy around your other priorities, whether they are better power resilience, demonstrating better sustainability, or a combination.

The best part is this innovative UPS solution enables you to do all of this simultaneously, without compromising your power resilience. We call this Resilience+.

To read more about your power resilience within the context of Industry 4.0 and net zero carbon, download our white paper for free by completing the short form below.


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