OVERLOOKING
The High Tech,
Low Cost
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HURRICANE SUPPLEMENT
Article reprinted from Business Puerto Rico Magazine
July-August, 1999 issue

What do Ford Motor Company, General Electric, McDonald's, Puerto Rico Telephone Company, Intel, The Shell Oil Company of Puerto Rico, Texaco Puerto Rico, Kmart Corporation, Pep Boys, Caribbean Restaurants, Inc., El Nuevo Dia Newspaper, The San Juan Star Newspaper, CellularOne, Centennial de Puerto Rico, Cable TV of Greater San Juan/Community Cablevision, The Electric Power Authority of Puerto Rico and Luis Mu?oz Marin International Airport have in common? You may not believe it, but these firms are just a few of the hundreds of local companies that have optimized their total output by eliminating the destructive effects of electrical power surges.

An Estimated $26 Billion Dollar Per Year Cost to U.S. and Puerto Rican Companies in Lost Time, Equipment Repair, or Equipment Replacement.

Your power distribution system and load equipment is under constant attack from various types of power line disturbances. Transient voltage surges comprise the most severe and immediate danger to electronic equipment. The results from these disturbances represent a significant cost to the bottom-line.

What causes power surges?

Surges in voltage levels are caused by many different events. Power outages and lightning are common causes, but accidents involving power poles, birds and animals can also generate damaging surges. Surges can also be generated within your home or business, caused by large appliances or motors being switched on and off. Even when the equipment or appliances are turned off, high-voltage surges can still cause damage.

How can a surge affect me?

Surges can do two things to sensitive electronics. They can wear down the circuitry and cause early failure of your equipment, or they can result in immediate equipment failure. Today's electrical equipment contains sensitive microprocessors. Even the shortest interruption of power can cause damage. Low level surges can cause stress on the circuits, leading to early failure. High-level surges can result in the immediate destruction of expensive circuitry.

Common Symptoms of Transient Voltage

The effects of transient voltage surges, while evident, do not always easily relate to electrical power events. Just like a sore throat is a symptom that indicates some other type of disease is plaguing the human body, symptoms of transient voltage are also indicative of a larger problem. If your maintenance staff is always performing emergency type repairs instead of preventative type repairs, this is a good indication that your facility is greatly affected.

by power surges. The three most common symptoms are burned-out lamps, broken air conditioners, and the necessity to reset sensitive electronics.

Identifying the solution

Enter Timothy Newman president of I.T. Caribbean, Inc., based in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. This firm's only business is the application of surge suppressers. They sell and service a complete product line of industrial-grade surge protective devices (SPDs) as manufactured by Innovative Technology, Inc. throughout the Caribbean market. Innovative Technology, Inc. (I.T.) of Brooksville, Florida is a leading U.S. manufacturer of SPDs for industrial and commercial applications marketed under The Protector? brand name.

Newman and his staff are trained to identify and locate the problems associated with surges (proper grounding is a must). Together with other local electrical contractors, these businesses turnkey an inexpensive and timely solution to electrical problems most firms thought were situations that just could not be rectified.

For example, Colgate Palmolive in Juncos, PR, is a facility that manufactures over 100 million toothbrushes annually. The supplier of the equipment of the machines that make the toothbrushes has repeatedly told the Juncos facility that their location consumed more electrical replacement components than any other similar manufacturing facility in the world. Since the implementation of the I.T. System Shield? concept of layering Protector? products in stages, this toothbrush manufacturer has experienced a dramatic reduction in replacement parts as well as a substantial increase in productivity.

Losses and Savings

Believe that your facility consumes a lot of light bulbs? How about the Sears, Plaza Las Americas store in Puerto Rico? This facility has over 8,000 lamps highlighting merchandising. Before the installation of just one Protector? device at the main electrical service switchboard, this store changed out an average of 1,600 lamps per month. (a twenty-five percent failure rate) The cost per month to maintain a well-lit store was approximately $6,400. ($3/bulb and $1 labor) After installation of just one device, the monthly failure rate of lamps decreased to 150; the monthly maintenance cost for lamp replacement dropped to $600. Over a seven-month period, this one-time investment of approximately $2,000 saved over $40,000.

Have you noticed that your cable provider has had less down time the past several years? Part of that improvement can be directly related to the use of SPDs. Some local cable providers have tried units and based upon the performance, have standardized on The Protector? units for use at all of their inverter units that boost the signal on its way to your home.

Cable TV of Greater San Juan has utilized The Protector? since Paul Wechgelaer, another SPD sales engineer, targeted this firm in 1996. Raymond Ortiz, supervisor of the line transmission repair shop, states that before protection, a lightning strike or severe power outage would damage or destroy the $2,500 inverter that is located on the utility pole. Today, Mr. Ortiz is happy to report that not one inverter has sustained damage. And, while four of the 600 SPD units in operation have failed, his management is especially pleased because the replacement of these damaged units was covered by the exclusive warranty of ten years against failure.

Two typical examples of how I.T. Caribbean, Inc. and its staff won over customers is the firm's willingness to allow potential clients to experiment with SPD units on a trial basis. Newman had targeted both Caribbean Restaurants (Burger King) and Pep Boys as prospective accounts. In both cases, with the assistance of each firm's individual facilities engineering staffs, the most electrical problematic stores were identified. With the assistance of Antonio Pedrosa of Expert Electrician Services, Inc., Newman and Pedrosa offered their services and products for free on a trial basis at the identified locations. Within two months of installation, these units proved their worth and orders from each respective firm were placed for the installation at every island location.

Why are these local firms willing to provide initial services and products on a trial basis- because they realize the effectiveness of The Protector?. In fact, Newman states that the most difficult sale to make is when a firm has tried another manufacturer of SPDs and been disappointed with the results. SPDs are a relatively new technology, and although eventually industry standards and electrical requirements will mandate the use of this protection by code sometime within the next ten years, the reality is that purchasing SPDs today is a "buyer beware" marketplace.

Newman further relates that many local firms are reluctant to try a free trial, a baffling notion; however, for those that have allowed Newman and Pedrosa to install test units, the results have been significant. Newman states that a trial has always resulted in its purchase as well as the additional purchase of other devices.

Either at home or business, SPDs are an economical, rapid return on investment, capital expense items. The greatest hurtles for any firm in the application of this technology is the ability to be able to choose a proven, effective SPD unit. In an era of increasing operating costs and the mandate to maintain profits, SPDs are a high-tech, low cost solution right under our noses
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