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Data Center Maintenance Best Practice: Maintaining the ATS

To ensure your data center’s uptime, maintaining the ATS is a data center maintenance best practice.

The importance of data center preventative maintenance is understood by the vast majority of data center owners. Critical data center infrastructure equipment that supports your data center’s operations – cooling systems, UPS, standby generators, switchgear – all need to be properly maintained in order to ensure the uptime of your facility.

Many data centers keep cooling equipment (CRAC units, chillers, dry coolers, etc) and UPS and battery systems maintained under a regular service contract and some extend that contract to include things like standby generators and switchgear. However, a critical piece of equipment that is too-often overlooked in the data center preventative maintenance cycle is an Automatic Transfer Switch for your generator.

An Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) enables your data center to switch to standby generator power in the event that utility power is lost. Most data centers with standby generators have minimal (less than 10 minutes) battery runtime on their UPS, meaning they rely on the ATS to make a quick, successful transfer to generator power. Unfortunately, we have observed an improperly maintained ATS not making a successful transfer to generator power on several occasions. The results are disastrous for a data centeryour UPS batteries will drain and your data center will fail.

Although ATS systems are reliable, they are complicated pieces of switchgear with sensors, trip-relays, arcing contacts, and much more. Like all switchgear, they are subject to deterioration of these components, making regular preventative maintenance practices critical to successful operation of your ATS.

During ATS maintenance, your service provider will do things like:

  • Test and/or recalibrate sensors that control trip-sensing and time-delay, among other things
  • Manually operate the transfer process to verify contacts are properly aligned
  • Check all electrical cable and control cable connections

Unfortunately, most data centers focus their preventative maintenance efforts on equipment like CRAC units, UPS systems, and chillers and ignore their ATS. Data center maintenance best practice is to have a properly maintained ATS because the ATS is a critical component to your data center’s infrastructure that is subject to wear-and-tear; it needs to be properly maintained to ensure successful operation and to minimize the risk of downtime to your critical data center facility.