Taking the Bite out of Power Outages

Mail Shark Protects its Manufacturing

Reading Electric, in conjunction with Mail Shark, provides this information as an educational service to the Region’s Industrial and Commercial Businesses.

Mail Shark is a recognized leader providing nationwide printing and mailing services, specializing in specific industry marketing plans. Mail Shark’s clients rely on constant weekly delivery of direct mail advertising to ensure their business growth. Mail Shark’s portfolio includes but is not limited to direct mail campaigns, printing of menus, brochures, postcards, magnets, and a variety of other promotional pieces.

Critical Power Problem Identification

Satisfying the marketing and promotional needs of a nationwide customer base that relies on the design, printing and mailing of their marketing programs without interruption on 24/7/365 basis requires excellence in project planning, implementation and operation. This level of customer commitment requires reliable electric utility service for Mail Shark to provide 100% certainty of their production schedules.

Located in the middle of the Nolde Forest in Mohnton Pennsylvania, Mail Shark is faced with high vulnerability to power outages. It was critical that Mail Shark had a quality back-up electrical service plan.

As the seasonal storms seemed to increase in strength, the frequency and duration of power outages became untenable for Mail Shark. The cost of losing production for a one (1) week period equates to about $50,000 in immediate losses. The greater impact of customer dissatisfaction, while hard to calculate, is very real. Short term power outages of just a couple of hours were very disruptive to manufacturing operations and greatly impacted profitability due to overtime, waste and expediting charges.
If Mail Shark lost power for one week twice a year, the profit losses over 10 years would equate to 1 million dollars. More importantly, millions of dollars would be at risk due to unsatisfied customers seeking business from competitors. Mail Shark President, Brian Johnson, decided to implement a plan to eliminate the negative impacts of power outages.

The decision was made to investigate upgrading the emergency standby generator system to carry the current full loads of manufacturing operations, IT Support Systems, and planned future expansions.

Problem Solution

The A six (6) month investigation and analysis provided the Mail Shark Team with sufficient information to embark upon the project phase of budget analysis, appropriation approval, and ordering of an emergency standby power system. In October 2012, the Contract was signed. This project installation phase required two (2) months for completion which included equipment delivery.

Initially, a study was completed to determine if placing small individual backup generators to serve specific equipment would be viable. In the final analysis it was deemed a more reliable and cost effective solution to design and install a full service generator into the main utility feed.

The solution that evolved over this period resulted in a Standby Power System that consisted of: 250 Kw diesel powered generator with a sub-base fuel tank for 48 hours of runtime, new 800 amp Service Entrance rated transfer switch, and a remote annunciator panel which mimics the generator control panel alarms. This equipment was to be installed outdoors and would provide the entire 800 amp service meeting the current requirements. This solution would provide Mail Shark with four ‘9s’ capability.

The ROI is expected to be less than one (1) year. The Standby Power System would pay for itself after only ten (10) days of lost production avoidance The System is currently sized for 65% loading. It was also decided to purchase the System from a local Company (Reading Electric) to avoid response time issues.

Implementation and Associated Issues

As with any complex Solution, there were dozens of details that needed to have special focus to ensure success of the Program in terms of performance and schedule. These details were:

  1. Project Management Team consisting of decision makers at Mail Shark, George H. Longenecker & Sons, and Reading Electric.
  2. Real-time status meetings with virtual Electronic Meetings /communications as required.
  3. Advance review and pre-approval from Local Municipality for Permits.
  4. Offsite Equipment Testing before shipment & installation at the Mail Shark Facility to avoid potential start-up problems.
  5. Detailed installation and test schedules. George H. Longenecker & Sons was selected for the on-site installer of the equipment.
    a. Site Preparation
    b. Equipment Placement
    c. Mechanical
    d. Electric
    e. System Testing
  6. Detailed plan and schedule for commissioning and tie-in to the Facility
The Program Time Line:
Equipment Delivery 5 weeks
Installation 2 weeks
Planned Commissioning & Tie-in 4 hours

Careful coordination among Mail Shark, George H. Longenecker & Sons and Reading Electric Personnel resulted in a Tie-In that did not impact printing operations. Commissioning and Acceptance Testing were scheduled in advance, safeguarding Mail Shark’s operations. Commissioning took place in December 2012 and this commissioning included operational testing where “loss of utility” conditions were simulated.

Emergency System Testing

Since commissioning, the Emergency Power Standby system has not been tested as yet by nature, but Mail Shark has put in place a bi-weekly test of the system. These tests do not fully transfer all loads to the Emergency System. A full load test will be conducted twice annually.

The Emergency System carries a two year/ 1000 hour warranty on the generator, one year on the transfer switch and is under an annual service contract for service and testing.

Critical Power Lessons Learned

Several lessons were learned through the implementation and execution of the Mail Shark Standby Generator Program.

  1. Management monitoring of corporate growth and demands on the Emergency Power Standby Systems is critical for maintaining business integrity.
  2. A complete engineering analysis of the current and future electrical loads is required for correct System sizing and design.
  3. Attention paid to the implementation and commissioning schedule pays large benefits during the ‘tie-in’ to the facility.

Critical Power Information Resources

For additional information on Standby Power Systems, contact Russ Yerger, Critical Power Systems Manager, Reading Electric Phone: 610-929-5777.

Reading Electric is a leading supplier of Electro-Mechanical Equipment & Services for Industrial and Commercial Customers, specializing in providing Total Solution Packages for Critical Power Requirements to safeguard the Industry’s profitability from electrical power outages.