How Does Lightning Impact Industrial Businesses?
Industrial businesses’ face numerous problems that are more difficult to deal with due to the physical makeup of their organizations and processes’. The fact that these types of industries can operate within physical spaces that are more diverse and difficult to protect against makes the electrical protection of them a unique challenge in almost any installation. The more sensitive and expensive the equipment used in the process becomes, the more effort and expense will be put into protecting it in a typical situation. Within industrial facilities there is almost no way to completely disconnect sensitive equipment from the aspects of the network which could be in danger during a lightning strike or a surge coming from the electrical grid. This translates to a simple issue, the positioning of equipment in the field places it at a greater risk of damage than normal situations, even if the best of all protection circumstances is achieved. Some of the industries where we have seen this scenario played out is in the electric vehicle (EV) market, the telecommunications industry and the green energy production methods. All of these types of businesses cannot get away from positioning expensive and easily damaged equipment in the field, and are also faced with the added difficulty of needing this equipment to function during all types of inclement weather. The risk of wind, rain and snow damage as a result of wear and tear is made far worse by the risks associated with lightning strikes and power surges. The added amount of electricity that is typically necessary to power an industrial facility makes switching issues and the standard expectations of power fluctuations pose a greater risk of economical loss to the business. When you begin to factor in the added unpredictable nature of lightning, you must expect a certain amount of losses to happen. Even the best of all scenarios where overhead shielding diverts lightning strikes away from the critical equipment and surge protection devices are installed in a redundant fashion throughout the entire system, we can still expect there to be a certain amount of damage every quarter.
In the telecommunications field, the position of the cell towers in an unobstructed manner creates the problem. A good signal must be able to be able to be received and transmitted, which means that the cell tower must be one of the tallest structures in an area. That tower also must be made of materials that can withstand a significant amount of wind and bad weather. The tower must provide the ability to continually function during inclement weather as well as in normal circumstances and must be able to be brought back into a functional state in a quick and easy manner after a damaging incident has occurred. The way that the system works is technologically advanced but simple in its methods. The remote radio head is positioned at the top of the tower in order to receive the signal from the user on the ground. The base station unit is positioned towards the bottom of the tower and is connected to the remote radio head through a series of cables that allow for data transfer and power flow. The lightning strike to the top of the tower can easily allow for a massive power surge to impact this equipment at the top, and that power flow can travel along the connectivity lines to impact the equipment further down. it is impossible to maintain operations without these two units being connected, and historically we have found that lightning strikes will damage the equipment at the top as well as at the bottom. The process of minimization of the damage as a result of lightning strikes has involved creating breaks where the electricity cannot continue flowing, ultimately protecting anything beyond that point. This is where the integration of surge protection equipment along critical pathways can extend the life span of equipment outside of the strike point, as well as improving the amount of time it takes to repair the system and get the tower back online. This gives customers less downtime and ultimately improves the business functionality at the same time as conserving OpEx funds that would otherwise be allocated towards repairs.
Within the electric vehicle market, we find that sensitive equipment is placed both inside of the cars as well as in the charging stations that are positioned in the field. When the electric car is connected to one of these charging stations, the risk of damage to both increases with every moment that the charge in process is ongoing. The lightning strike produces a power surge that can couple into this equipment and poses a risk of monetary losses, and a significant risk to the potential loss of life if someone is in or around their car. Minimizing the amount of time that someone spends charging ultimately minimizes these risks and improves customer satisfaction, the tradeoff being that faster charging stations means more expensive equipment. The integration of surge protection equipment throughout these types of systems is critical to prevent the loss of life that can occur, necessitating multiple and redundant surge protection devices to be installed along every potential transfer path on both the AC and DC sides.
In the green energy production market, we find that the damages which increase the costs associated with production happen because of lightning strikes to either the solar panels or the wind towers positioned in the field. Both of these types of structures need to be positioned in a way where they will be unobstructed, allowing for wind flow or sunlight to easily reach them. It is critical for them to remain unobstructed if they are to generate power using the free fuel sources which are available in the form of wind and sun. Every moment that a system is taken offline reduces the energy capacity that that system can produce, and compromises the viability of the methods. Lightning strikes to these exposed areas performs much the same as within the cell towers mentioned earlier, the power surge travels through the system from the strike point and impacts the expensive and sensitive equipment downstream. Through the reduction of the amount of distance that the power surges can flow, we can increase the viability of the entire industry through the production of more power in a 24 hour period. We also reduce the amount of downtime and CapEx to be associated with repair and maintenance to those components which will be damaged.
Raycap is leading the field in the production of surge protection devices that are applicable to all of these industries and more. Through the diligent work and technological advances that have brought Raycap products to market, the company is also continually improving to develop better, faster and more robust devices. Every improvement that is made increases the viability of these emerging markets and increases the profit margins for the operators involved.