With loadshedding in South Africa reaching all-time highs, shifting to Stage 6 this week alone, many South African companies have already begun to see the risks involved as their business networks go down.
One of the biggest issues facing small to medium-sized business is downtime during load shedding. “It has been made clear that load shedding is here to stay, so it is important that companies find cost-effective solutions that allow them to keep running during power outages,” shares senior consultant at BroadVision Technologies|Solutions|Enterprises, Nick Weigl.
One of the most common issues companies are experiencing during loadshedding is a loss of data and in some instances, damage to sensitive equipment. Alarmingly, something as simple as a voltage fluctuation can prove detrimental.
“Load limiting and loadshedding throughout the country is inflicting voltage fluctuations and excursions which can damage or destroy electrical and electronic components,” he urged. “In addition to this, he stressed that spikes can corrupt software and when a large load is switched off or a substation fails when the power is restored, surges can degrade switch-mode power supply components and lead to premature hardware failures.”
However, it is not all troublesome. “The solution is two-fold in this instance and it begins with planning,” he shares. “The current load shedding crisis serves as a reminder that every business owner and manager needs to factor an unreliable power supply into its business plan. Understanding, planning and mitigating risk is the first step we take with our clients to ensure they have limited downtime when it comes to their network.”
Planning is critical in the battle against load shedding. Not every small business can afford the cost of high-end alternative energy solutions such as installing generators or solar-powered batteries, but there are other options. According to Weigl, companies that are reliant on technology for the operation of their business, and those who run systems that contain data, need to ensure they invest in a UPS (uninterruptible power supply).
“A UPS typically protects your equipment from sudden electricity surges or when the power goes off,” he explains. “It will give you time to turn off your equipment properly to avoid data loss or in the worst-case scenario, damaged. A UPS also detects changes in electric current and stabilizes it.”
A UPS will give users time to exit the applications they are working on and save their work before they safely shut down their PCs if there is a power failure. “Even if you have generators, they’ll take a few seconds to kick in after a power failure – a UPS will prevent them from losing power before you’ve saved your work,” he explains.
Power outages caused by utility failure, accidents and even natural disasters like lightning, storms or flooding are something are inescapable and there is little businesses can do to prevent these from happening. “That being said, you can avoid the consequences to your business by proper power and backup planning for these events,” Weigl explains.
“A backup power inverter system is another option. There are cost-effective options that will keep your routers, a couple of computers and some lights going for a few hours,” shares Weigl. Since mobile data networks are congested and sometimes unreliable when the power goes down, powering your ADSL or fibre with an alternate power supply can increase your productivity in a time when a lot of businesses will be offline,” he concludes.