18 Jun 2018

Are Power Limitations Preventing You From Keeping Up With Demand?

Production line
 

When demand soars at your facility, what do you do? Do you have a plan in place to increase capacity? Do you know how you will scale up your power supply? Do you sometimes have to turn down large orders because you think your facility can’t handle them? 

There are many factors that cause demand to spike. Sometimes this follows a seasonal pattern; sometimes unpredictable market forces create an unexpectedly high burst of orders. Either way, whether you can see the increase coming a mile off, or the flurry of orders catches you off guard, the problem is the same: you have to pass up on the opportunity if you don’t have a way to rapidly scale up capacity - which also means rapidly scaling up access to power. 

But can you afford to upgrade? Despite missing out on opportunities as a result, most manufacturing plants are reluctant to completely overhaul their equipment. Replacing aging facilities or expanding operations is an enormous investment, and if you only need the extra production lines at certain times of year or on an ad hoc basis, the capital expenditure can outweigh the additional profits. 

While this makes financial sense in the short term, failing to keep up with demand isn’t great for the long term health of your business. Ultimately, manufacturers do need to keep up with the demands of their customers and their customers’ end users. If they don’t, they may see their existing business trickle away to competitors who can always be relied on to step up to the plate.  

So where do you turn when your facility is at full capacity? Luckily, there is an alternative approach to buying everything yourself. By bringing in supplemental power purely at only the times you need it, you can open up additional production lines until the demand is met, without having to invest in a permanent solution. You don’t need to spend huge sums on extra facilities or getting these hooked up to the grid; you just rent what you need when you need it, and return it afterwards.

This option is also extremely useful if your access to power is subject to limitations that you can’t do anything about.

For example, a major challenge in the UAE is “load shedding”, which is used during periods of high demand in the region. Large portions of the grid are scheduled to be shut down altogether for periods of time to prevent the entire grid from being overloaded. While it’s a necessary fix to keep the system working, it’s not great news for manufacturing facilities in the region who rely on that electricity, or who are trying to find ways to scale up demand. 

One of our clients, a cement producer, was grappling with this exact problem. Business was booming thanks to the explosion of the construction sector in the area, and they had already begun to launch a series of new production facilities to keep up with the growing demand for cement production. The issue for this client wasn’t that they didn’t have enough capacity, but that they couldn’t rely on the power supply feeding these facilities.

In this case, we supplied a 10 MW rental power package, which we were able to install within two weeks. Pretty quickly it was clear that production rates had soared, so the client asked us to install another one. Knowing that they had a reliable backup during load shedding meant they were able to take on new projects and orders, and take advantage of the demand in surge that was fueling their growth.

Are you also working around scheduled power outages? Are you’re anticipating seasonal changes in demand? What would you do if you get an unexpected call tomorrow, requesting a huge, profitable order you’d hate to turn down? Well, renting temporary generators is an excellent, cost-effective way to handle problems like these.

The key, though, is making sure that whatever company you rent these from sees itself as a partner in your project, not purely a provider of power. They must be willing to work closely with your team and assess you specific requirements, deal with your questions and concerns - and, if necessary, to tailor a power solution precisely to what you need. 

Even better, once you’ve established a good relationship with a company that really understands your business requirements, they can be onsite with designs in hand, installing the temporary power you need as soon as you need it, without delay. 

After all, unless you can entirely rely on the backup to give you uninterrupted power, you’re still at risk of running behind schedule. No one wants to be the company that misses out on a major revenue opportunity because of logistical hurdles. Are you certain that won’t be you?

Besides the revenue opportunities, as need for power increases, so are the risks for an arc flash. Download our Safety Tip below and be aware of all risks and countermeasures when dealing with Arc Flash/Blast Safety. 

 

 
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