In an era when almost all the sectors of the economy need electrical power to run, even a short outage in power may lead to unspeakable economic, financial and operational consequences. The degree of the impact brought about by load shedding to an individual entity varies by industry and the nature of applications. It can range from being operationally disruptive to terminal or life threatening.
Here’s a run-down of industries and business functions that are severely hampered by power failures:
1. Manufacturing Industries
Power interruptions can bring production lines to a full, abrupt stop. This may result in malfunction of machinery, and loss of material and of productive time. This may also lead to supply chains to shutting down altogether.
2. Financial Corporations
The stock market can be thrown into chaos by a power outage. In an industry where a second can be the difference between making millions of dollars and losing them, power outages can render financial corporations unable to carry out vital transactions on time.
3. Consulting and Information Technology (IT) Services
In this day and age where IT operations are an institution’s window to the rest of the world, power outages can result in crashed computer systems, lost data and sudden termination of transactions with clients. What is worse is that, even after the power is restored, these companies often need several weeks to recover hundreds of man-hours of work.
4. Data Centers
Data centers are vital for the operations of several organizations, such as financial services firms, insurance companies, and IT services firms, to name a few. Load shedding here can cause massive and irreparable loss of thousands of records stored over time and can disrupt ongoing transactions, as well.
5. Perishable Items
Pharmaceutical, petrochemical and food processing industries heavily rely on a dependable supply of power for storage and preservation of perishables that have critically limited life spans. Power interruptions can cause the spoilage, contamination and eventual discarding of in-process products worth several millions of dollars.
6. Control Centers
Traffic signal operations, public transport systems, air traffic management centers, telecommunications and utilities – All of these operations largely rely on continuous power supply for efficient functioning. Disturbance in such critical operations can endanger the safety and security of millions of consumers in an instant.
7. Medical Facilities
In healthcare facilities, the patients’ lives are essentially supported by health monitoring systems. Any discontinuity in the normal functioning of medical systems can directly cause the loss of many lives.
8. Military Operations
Blackouts expose valuable equipment, weaponry and even personnel to the risk of attack.
9. Entertainment Venues
Cancellation of events even for brief periods of time can lead to huge losses of profit for entertainment venues. More than resulting in forced losses of revenues, unexpected termination of routine operations can also prove to be risky to visitors and operating personnel.
10. Safety and Security
Power outages have the potential to endanger the safety of the common citizens. For instance, power interruptions can prove to be hazardous for people trapped in or out of facilities with automated access control systems, passengers of elevators that come to a sudden stop, or residents of buildings with fire alarms and water sprinklers that cease to function.
In the next part of this article, we will explore the industry solutions available today, which are capable of mitigating the effects of load shedding and blackouts, not only on the above-listed industries, but on other residential, commercial and industrial operations as well.
*Thanks to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) for providing key insights to the article.
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