In the 4 decades since Controlled Power Company, Troy, Mich, tweaked the design and manufacture of modular AC to DC converters, it has beefed up its line to include uninterruptible power systems (UPS), voltage regulators, power line conditioners, shielded transformers, power distribution systems, and rectifiers. The company has spearheaded discoveries in the microprocessor tap-changer system, zero-current crossover in tap-changing regulators, using fuzzy ranging for infinitely variable switch points in UPS, and for creating a small but mighty ferroresonant transformer. 24×7 recently spoke with Vice President Dave Gerds about a key new offering and where the industry is trending.
24×7: What is your history with the company?
Gerds: I have been with Controlled Power Company for over 25 years, beginning my career as a field-service engineer and transitioning into sales management in 1985. I’ve held the positions of regional and national sales manager prior to my current position of sales and marketing VP.
24×7: What is your company’s niche?
Gerds: We focus on three major markets. They are medical, emergency lighting, and general power quality, with the largest increase in sales being in the medical market.
24×7: How has your company grown?
Gerds: We have grown by focusing on our three major markets, listening to the needs of our customers, and by producing high-quality products that meet those needs. Our growth in the medical market is a real success story and accounts for approximately 27% of our product sales.
24×7: How does the MedPoweRx UPS patient-vicinity series, model LT/M, differ from a typical UPS?
Gerds: There are two major differences. The first is its UL 60601-1 medical listing, which is absolutely required when the UPS is placed within 6 feet of the patient or attendant. This listing certifies that if the ground wire becomes disconnected from the UPS and the patient or attendant comes in contact with the UPS, they would not be harmed. The leakage current-to-ground is well below 300 micro-amps. This UL listing also assures the use of hospital-grade receptacles and line plugs, which are designed to withstand the rigorous use and accidental bumping, which are common in hospital and medical environments. Secondly, a typical nonmedical UPS just passes the incoming power directly to the load through a surge suppression device. It does not regulate the voltage or provide any harmonic attenuation or high-level power conditioning. The LT/M does all of these things and is a true, isolated power source.
24×7: For how long does the system shield sensitive medical equipment from power outages?
Gerds: Depending on the model purchased, it will supply up to 35 minutes at full load and over 1 hour and 20 minutes at half load. This allows health care professionals the time needed to finish procedures, even if a backup power generator is not in use.
24×7: How does the built-in, medical-grade isolation transformer protect the load from damaging power disturbances?
Gerds: The key is an internal, ferroresonant transformer, which truly purifies the incoming power. While an isolation-only transformer design may offer attenuation of high-frequency voltage spikes and transients, our product’s transformer is designed to regulate line voltage and eliminate both high- and low-frequency power disturbances. Nothing gets through except the 60 Hz clean power that medical equipment requires.
24×7: Tell us about the field-expandable power ratings, and optional extended battery run times.
Gerds: The 700VA model is expandable to 850VA, the 1200VA model to 1600VA, and the 1800VA model to 2100VA. This is done through a software upgrade, allowing the LT/M to deliver more power. Depending on the model, internal battery run times range from the standard 10 or 11 minutes to an optional 35 minutes at full load.
24×7: How does the system adapt voltage, reduce harmonics, and hush ground and line noise?
Gerds: The key is in the isolation and reconstruction of the incoming waveform. Load-generated harmonics are attenuated, while any incoming voltage waveform harmonics are removed. The ferroresonant transformer exceeds the electrical noise attenuation capability of a standard isolation transformer. The line-to-neutral and line-to-ground noise attenuation is constant, independent of frequency. The transformer also re-establishes the output neutral-to-ground bond, creating a new reference.
24×7: The unit is UL 60601-1 listed for use with patient-vicinity medical equipment. Why is this important?
Gerds: Safety. It is all about eliminating the shock hazard to the patient or attendant. This UL listing certifies that if the ground wire becomes disconnected from the UPS and the patient or attendant comes in contact with the UPS, they would not be harmed.
24×7: What are the NetMinder UPSMAN options for UPS monitoring and the shutdown of critical computer servers over the network?
Gerds: Our new NetMinder products allow health care personnel two basic options. The first is our NetMinder UPSMAN-UPS management and monitoring suite. Provided on a CD, it is a real-time software package that includes four different programs that monitor the status and operation of the UPS and provide remote monitoring, logging of events, alarm notification, and unattended server shutdown. NetMinder can run locally on a single server connected to our UPS or over the network with an Ethernet adapter. The second option is our NetMinder CS121 series of adapters, which allow our UPS to be integrated into an Ethernet TCP/IP, Modbus TCP, or Modbus RS485 network with a specific IP address without the use of a dedicated server or additional software. The adapter provides remote monitoring of the UPS, alarm conditions, and electrical measurements via a Web browser. Remote notification of system alarms and status is available via SNMP, e-mail, and network-broadcast messaging. It too can initiate an unattended, graceful shutdown of critical servers when used in conjunction with our NetMinder automatic shutdown software.
24×7: How much TVSS protection does it provide?
Gerds: Significant would be an understatement. Most UPS use a simple MOV device to clip off voltage transients at a certain level, allowing some of the transient disturbance to be passed on to the load. This device will also degrade over time and use. In comparison, the product relies on its internal ferroresonant transformer to eliminate the transient down to the 60 Hz fundamental waveform. Since the transformer is providing the protection and has a MTBF of over 200,000 hours, the TVSS protection will not be compromised or require replacement over time.
24×7: How important is the surge capability of 150% of rated output?
Gerds: Medical equipment may require a significant amount of startup current for a very short period of time. The product’s 150% surge capability delivers this current without the need of a static bypass circuit or clearing internal fusing.
24×7: Are there other aspects of the product we should know about?
Gerds: It uses fuzzy ranging, a patented technology solution to automatically broaden the input operating range of the UPS as a function of load. Even with the input power source dipping to -30% (85 vac), its output voltage can be regulated to +/-3% from nominal, without battery consumption. Fuzzy ranging increases the life expectancy of the batteries and assures that maximum backup time is available in case of a true power outage.
24×7: How is your industry changing?
Gerds: Speaking as a manufacturer, I believe every UPS and power quality equipment supplier is looking for their niche in the marketplace. In past years, the desire to be all things to every application seemed to be the goal. Now, the focus is on the needs of the customer in the specific market or markets that fit the product strengths of each manufacturer. It’s a good thing because the customer gets the attention deserved and receives a better product for the intended application.
24×7: What is the biggest challenge for your company right now?
Gerds: Every company and every person today is dealing with a struggling national economy and rising prices. We’re no different. The economic environment can affect consumer confidence and customer budgets. Many new construction and expansion projects have been downsized, delayed, or eliminated. The fact that our company experienced significant growth last year and into 2008 is a testimony to our employees and the quality products we manufacture.
24×7: What distinguishes you from the competition?
Gerds: We are simply one of the few power quality equipment and UPS suppliers who truly design and manufacture the product and support it through highly trained individuals who provide quick, accurate answers to deserving customers. We do the little things that make a big difference in our customers’ eyes. We’re about long-term relationships and electrical product solutions that stand the test of time.
24×7: Where will your company be 5 years from now?
Gerds: Our plan is to grow by 150% or more, in large part by developing new products and new technologies, some of which are less than a year away from production. Our future growth will be fueled by the same fundamentals that have allowed us to grow thus far: listening to the needs of our customers and producing high-quality products that meet those needs.
Judy O’Rourke is associate editor of 24×7. Contact her at .