Powering the US Air Force:
Andrews AFB

Have you ever wondered how our nation’s government protects their invaluable data, computers, and software? What systems do they have in place to ensure that files and information are always safeguarded from power disruptions threatening system failure, data loss or corruption?

At Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and for many other federal agencies, Eaton is the answer. The 89th Communications Group, based at Andrews AFB, provides vital systems support for the 89th Airlift Wing and its partner units. A long-standing solutions provider to the United States Air Force and many other federal agencies, Eaton was awarded a contract with the Group for the power upgrade of their communications facility in 2001.

Creating total solutions: the sky is the limit
The 89th Communications Group had been tasked with the design of a new communications facility that would provide support to the President, Vice President, cabinet secretaries, high ranking dignitaries, Department of Defense agencies in the National Capital Region, and base level communications and computer support for Andrews AFB. The facility would provide local and global command, control, communications, audio-visual, and computer hardware and software support to these groups. In an environment where nearly all systems are of mission-critical importance, power quality management plays a crucial role.

The Group was continually struggling with outdated electrical power equipment that had either reached or exceeded the end of its design life. Among the units removed was a UPS (two 500 kVA reverse transfer, single module UPSs) containing one battery string of 182 flooded cells. The system was more than 14 years old. Also removed from the power plant was a Lorain DC Power System (48 VDC, 600 Amp), complete with a Lorain DC distribution panel and a DC to DC converter with two branch circuit breakers.

Astronomical standards of protection
Following the removal of the communication facility’s outdated equipment, Eaton installed two Powerware 9315-500 (400 kVA) parallel redundant UPSs, complete with input isolation transformers and a parallel tie cabinet. Two battery strings, each consisting of 240 flooded cells, rest on eight 18-foot, three-tier battery racks complete with a battery spill containment system. The UPS also was installed with a DC switchboard panel, maintenance bypass panel, remote monitoring panel and a UPS spare parts kit.

With its parallel redundant configuration, this Eaton 9315 UPS solution was designed to increase reliability and maximize system availability. In the event of failure in any module, the critical load remains protected. Eaton's patented Hot Sync technology eliminates a single point-of-failure, allowing the UPS modules to work in tandem in complete synchronization without being wired together. This wireless design means that while the modules are in sync, they are functioning independently of one another, monitoring themselves for failure. This unique technology represents a key element in our total solution strategy designed to provide an all-encompassing power management system to realize high 9s of availability.

Hot Sync is not the only feature that distinguishes the Powerware 9315. This fully engineered, double-conversion UPS boasts a series of entirely unique features. DC Expert, an automatic battery management system, provides accurate runtime, a battery health indicator, and trend analysis, allowing the user to forecast the need for battery maintenance. With DC Expert, the system will store 2 ½ years of test data for future analysis. The Intelligent Input feature tells the system when to be online, greatly improving auxiliary generator interface; Prioritized Cooling regulates the flow of cool air from the system’s redundant fans so that the most critical elements are cooled first. These and other features are entirely unique to the Powerware 9315 UPS, delivering reliability and groundbreaking technologies that will not be found anywhere else.

In place of their outdated DC equipment, the 89th Communications Group elected to install a Eaton DC Power System (48 VDC, 720 Amp). This included a DC distribution panel with 38 branch circuit breakers and a DC to DC converter (48 VDC to 24 VDC) with two branch circuit breakers. At the heart of Eaton's DC Power Systems is our refined rectifier topology, which provides increased conversion efficiency and reduced running and cooling costs. The systems include features such as built-in intelligence for added flexibility, precision, and automation, and Hot Sync rectifiers to make it easier to meet project deadlines. All Eaton DC Power Systems arrive pre-configured to the buyer’s requirements, dramatically reducing installation and setup times.

John Schiliro of Andrews AFB worked closely with Eaton technicians through the project’s completion: “As the Facilities Chief for the 89th Communications Group, I have had day to day contact with Eaton. I have been handling the site management of the $2.8 million power plant upgrade, working directly with Eaton since the inception of this project. They have exceeded all requirements and have been very proactive in replying to our requests.”

Elevating cost reductions
Having conducted a detailed cost analysis of the expenses involved with an entire power plant upgrade, the 89th Communications Group found the projected savings, over time, to more than justify the cost. In addition to the peace of mind they would gain through the implementation of a complete, tailored Eaton solution, they found yearly UPS and battery maintenance savings to equal $13,000, with yearly switchgear maintenance savings of $45,000. That’s nearly $60,000 per year the Group would save on maintenance costs alone – not to mention that the new system’s automated operations would eliminate manpower expenditures by another $28,000 per year.

Sky high standards in customer care
With more than 40 years of experience training service field technicians, Eaton delivers superior service upon installation, and extending through the life of our products. Under Eaton's contract with the US Air Force, Andrews AFB will receive services including one scheduled preventive maintenance on each UPS they purchased, to take place between the first and second year following installation. In the event that something does go awry, the entire UPS is fully covered for emergency maintenance for two years. Eaton additionally provides two annual inspections on its DC Power 48 VDC system.

Powering the future of the Air Force
As one of Eaton's target markets, we will continue to work with various sectors of the Federal government, providing the best in power quality management and protection solutions. Employing a global network of innovative minds and technical experts, Eaton is well prepared to meet the government’s future requirements. “They are truly one of the best in the United States when it comes to power supplies, rectifiers, battery banks, switchgear, and other integrated power equipment installations,” says Schiliro in regard to Eaton. “I would highly recommend them to any government agency for future use. They are truly a five star organization from top to bottom.”