The battles British businesses face due to power cuts
The British weather is a strange one. Gleaming sunshine one moment, huge downpours the next. This has been causing stress to the nation’s systems and could potentially be the cause of power outages. This summer, Thorpe Park experienced a series a power cuts and worried visitors were left stranded on rides. Although you would think this was the result of harsh weather conditions, it was in fact due to high levels of heat across the region. Around the same time, there were more than 15 reports of power cuts in 24 hours across Cambridgeshire, which were caused by lightning strikes in the area.
Of course, some businesses are prepared for such situations, but it’s concerning how many aren’t. Power cuts aren’t only difficult to deal with when you’re at home, but in a work environment, this can cause lost productivity – can your business afford it?
A problem faced by the nation
The UK has been home to many memorable power cuts over the years. You may be old enough to remember the miners’ strike in 1972, which caused major power issues – leading to a state of emergency being declared. A more recent power event that caused power outage to 40,000 properties was the result of Storm Frank in 2015.
In Britain, there are over 17,000km of electricity cables. This means that there is a lot to contend with to ensure power cuts are kept to a minimum. However, some can’t be prevented.
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Below is a list of some of the most common power cuts in Britain:
- Transient fault: lasting only a few seconds. This is a temporary fault, but power is automatically restored.
- Brownout: reduction in mains power supply that can last for a few days (e.g. lowered light levels) and cause machinery malfunction.
- Blackout: absolute power loss. As the most severe case of power outage, blackouts are often the most costly and difficult to recover from.
It’s understandable that there are a variety of power cuts that can occur. However, between the years 2003 and 2012, weather was responsible for 80% – highlighting the importance of advanced preparation.
Damages to your organisation
Businesses across the nation run off the power of energy, so it’s crucial to ensure operations remain consistent and don’t put a stop to our productivity. Below, we take a look at how power cuts can actually harm a business.
Whether your company experiences a major power cut or a slight delay, you could suffer from a loss of data. If this is the case, this could have a profound impact on any ongoing campaigns and prove difficult for you to meet deadlines on a range of projects and ultimately meet the requirements of a client. Imagine if all of your work is lost due to such circumstances – you might have to start your work from scratch.
Expect a blackout or brownout to last at least a day. This could potentially put a stop to all operations – and will definitely be a cost to you. As your staff are contracted to work (even though power cuts), you will still have to pay them. As well as this, if your business relies on communication by using the internet or phone lines – this could cost you sales.
The downtime cost is also something that can vary. Some small businesses state that one hour of no power could cost £800 and, believe it or not, Google lost their power in 2013 and this cost them £100,000 each minute.
This downtime could be because of several reasons. If your business does not have access to electricity for example, employees will not be able to communicate with customers. If you’re a business that operates as an ecommerce, you won’t be able to monitor online sales and respond to website queries.
If you need to work out the average cost of downtime an hour, the general formula is: Employee cost per hour x fraction of employees affected by the power cut x average revenue for each hour x fraction of the revenue that was affected by the outage
Is it worth the risk?
Your priorities will differ to other businesses who are in the same situation. If your company relies on computers and data, you should look at installing an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) that will allow your devices to run off battery power in the event of a power cut.
It could be difficult to cope without an internet connection. If you set up a MiFi – which can operate as a WiFi hotspot – your staff will be able to connect to an ad-hoc network which can help you operate when a power cut does strike.
Make sure you are thinking ahead and have planned what you must do in the event of a power cut. Do this by creating a team or committee that will determine the specific risks to your business — a small IT company will have different points to consider compared to a large factory — and then draw up a detailed process for mitigating these risks.
This article was provided by Flogas LPG, gas bottle suppliers.