the quest for clean power

To maintain uptime and reduce servicing, the latest generation of electronic power conditioners guards data in case of power failure or lockups in ATM systems.

To maintain uptime and reduce servicing, the latest generation of electronicpower conditioners guards data in case of power failure or lockups in ATM systems.

In the race to deliver 100% reliability for ATM applications, every integrator,value-added reseller and in-house system operator knows that power is everything,and even a momentary interruption of line voltage can lead to irreparable damagethat only a site visit and rebooting can restore.

To prevent such catastrophes, resellers and network administrators are turningto a new option: digital UPS (uninterruptible power supply) units that not onlyprovide “computer grade” power, but possess the intelligence, in the absenceof an operator, to safely close down a running application in case of an unexpectedpower failure, thereby preserving valuable data. Recent innovations have broughtthe price of power-conditioning UPS units into a more affordable range, meaningdealers and integrators can costeffectively reduce unnecessary service callswhile increasing ATM performance. One Canadian systems reseller reports installingmore than 3,000 transformerbased filtering (TBF) units throughout a bank’s network;the units did the job at an acceptable price to the bank.

The quest for “clean power” is borne out by the experience of service techswho have rushed out to handle a system crash, only to discover that the troubleshootingresults in “no problem found.” While damage caused by a large power spike, suchas a lightning strike, is easy to identify, the insidious effects of power surges(less than 200 volts) prove far more difficult to pinpoint. Yet, according tostudies by well-known manufacturers and independent labs, 87% of power-relatedfailures result from low-voltage surges that cause “logic confusion,” therebyyielding system errors and frozen screens.

Unstable line power often stems from poor wiring in old facilities. Yet, evennew facilities can suffer from the immediate effects of power surges and sagsfrom line-voltage variations within the building, such as when an HVAC systemcycles on and off.

In the past, standard surge protectors and higher-priced power filters havebeen used to protect against highvoltage spikes. However, these devices arenot intelligent enough to handle the relatively small spikes and over-voltagesthat momentarily disrupt sensitive electronic equipment.

While isolation transformers—the traditional choice by some technicians— havebeen available to help avoid power surges, they are prohibitively expensiveand unwieldy in size and weight for the tight spatial constraints of most ATMapplications. In addition, UPSs have traditionally lacked the ability to safelyclose down an open application before they run out of power. No one device couldcover all the bases.

Recent technological advancements by companies like SmartPower Systems ( the field of power conditioning have yielded devices that provide computergrade power—a clean, filtered power supply to the protected equipment—at thesame price as limited-function surge protectors or filters and traditional UPSs.

TBF devices, on the whole, offer protective feature set so robust that someresellers have already recognized the benefits and started installing thesenew electronic power conditioners in a number of locations. More importantly,newly developed TBF-equipped UPSs offer a USB port and “watchdog” software thathas the unique capability to reboot the program which is locked up—without restartingother open programs—to safely preserve data.