Maximising your customers’ UPS maintenance

Ryan Jones, business development manager, Riello UPS, outlines the key questions your customers should ask to get the best out of their UPS maintenance plan.

Last week, we highlighted the importance of looking after UPS systems to make sure they run at their best. Like any piece of electrical or IT equipment, how well you maintain a UPS has a significant impact on its reliability, performance, and eventual lifespan.

But wear and tear is inevitable. Parts will need replacing over time. And no piece of electrical equipment is infallible, so a UPS will probably break down at some point.

A newish UPS will likely be covered under warranty, indeed much of Riello UPS’s range comes with a 5 year extended warranty as standard. But a warranty does only offer a ‘best endeavour’ response if something goes wrong, it’s not a guarantee of a speedy solution.

That’s why many customers, particularly in mission-critical facilities, will opt for the safeguard of an ongoing maintenance plan spelling out in black and white the emergency response time for engineers to attend site when there’s a fault. Contracts also set out whether or not parts and labour are included, and they’ll also contain provision for at least one Preventive Maintenance Visit (PMV) a year.

However, not all UPS maintenance contracts are created equally. Too many are riddled with get-out clauses, caveats, and confusing terms and conditions.

Due diligence

So it’s important you advise your customers to do their due diligence before signing on the dotted line. You should never be afraid to ask a prospective provider some challenging questions. Do their service level agreements stack up or are they more ‘style over substance’?

The first question is probably the most important: how quickly will you respond to an emergency? Most UPS maintenance companies will claim to offer 24/7 coverage with emergency response times ranging from 12 working hours down to 4 clock hours, depending on the needs of the customer.

But what does a ‘response’ actually mean? Is it a fully trained engineer onsite and fixing your faulty UPS? Or is it a phone call with tech support? Or worse, is it simply an automated response message acknowledging that you’ve reported the fault?

Sometimes even a speedy response doesn’t guarantee a quick fix. So the next question should focus on whether your maintenance provider has immediate access to spare parts, and if so, where are they held. It’s no help to you if the necessary components aren’t in stock, or if they are, they’re hundreds of miles away.

Riello UPS takes a different approach to most manufacturers. We have the biggest stockholding of UPS and spares in the UK. But we don’t just store this multi-million pound stockholding at our North Wales headquarters, it’s spread in several strategically located hubs across the country, enabling us to deliver spares or replacement UPSs within a few hours of an issue being reported.

While you’re focusing on spares, establish what is and isn’t covered under your maintenance contract. Consumables like batteries and capacitors tend to come at an added cost, but for parts such as fans, it’ll come down to the particular provider.

Avoiding downtime

Competence is key when it comes down to servicing your UPS too, so ask about the provider’s engineers. You need to trust that they are 100 per cent up to the task.

You don’t necessarily need to go straight to the UPS manufacturer for maintenance. But you do need to be sure that any engineer is fully trained and certified to work on the particular model.

General maintenance or electrical engineers are unlikely to have sufficient product-specific knowledge, and don’t ever forget that human error is the biggest cause of equipment downtime!

Up to the job

Riello UPS has run a long-standing Certified Engineer training programme covering not just our in-house team but personnel from authorised service partners.

Successful engineers must complete rigorous training on commissioning, maintaining, and servicing UPS, as well as undergo regular re-assessment to retain their approved status. That way you can be reassured that they’re up to the job.

Asking these key questions and getting clarity regarding response times, spare parts, and engineer competence will go a long way to ensuring your customers make an informed decision about who is best placed to maintain their vital UPS systems.