Power cuts in Britain: the battle businesses face

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Britain’s weather is always a talking point. It can be rays of sunshine one moment and then downfalls of rain the next. This can cause huge stress on the nation’s power systems and potentially cause power outages. For example, in July earlier this year, Thorpe Park experienced a series a power cuts which left worried visitors stuck on rides. Although you would think this was the result of harsh weather conditions, it was in fact due to high levels of heat across the region. Around the same time, there were more than 15 reports of power cuts in 24 hours across Cambridgeshire, which were caused by lightning strikes in the area.

Some businesses have already made plans to deal with such situations, but not everyone has. Power cuts aren’t only difficult to deal with when you’re at home, but in a work environment, this can cause lost productivity – can your business afford it?

A problem faced by the nation

There have been several memorable power cuts in the UK in years gone by. You may be old enough to remember the miners’ strike in 1972, which caused major power issues – leading to a state of emergency being declared. A more recent power event that caused power outage to 40,000 properties was the result of Storm Frank in 2015.

In Britain, there are over 17,000km of electricity cables. This means that there is a lot to contend with to ensure power cuts are kept to a minimum. However, some can’t be prevented. Below, we have listed the most common types of power cuts here in Britain:

Transient fault: lasting only a few seconds. This is a temporary fault, but power is automatically restored.

Brownout: reduction in mains power supply that can last for a few days (e.g. lowered light levels) and cause machinery malfunction.

Blackout: absolute power loss. As the most severe case of power outage, blackouts are often the most costly and difficult to recover from.

Of course, the type of power cut can vary, but between 2003 and 2012, 80% of power cuts were caused because of weather conditions.

Damages to your organisation

Businesses across the nation are ran by the power of energy. This means that it is crucial to ensure operations remain consistent and don’t put a stop to our productivity. Below, we take a look at how power cuts can actually harm a business.

Data can be lost whether you’re experiencing a significant power cut or a slight delay. If this is the case, this could have a profound impact on any ongoing campaigns and prove difficult for you to meet deadlines on a range of projects and ultimately meet the requirements of a client. Imagine if all of your work is lost due to such circumstances – you might have to start your work from scratch.

The downtime cost for a business can differ. Some small businesses state that one hour of no power could cost £800, while, believe it or not, Google lost their power in 2013 and this cost them £100,000 each minute. But, downtime could come down to several reasons. If your business does not have access to electricity for example, employees will not be able to communicate with customers. If you’re a business that operates as an ecommerce, you won’t be able to monitor online sales and respond to website queries.

A survey of IT professionals found that 23% said that an hour of business downtime can cost their organisation in the region of £10,000 and £1 million. Each year in Britain, as a result of IT downtime, businesses can pay the price of £3.6 million collectively and lose 545 productivity hours.

To work out the average cost of downtime an hour, this is the general formula: Employee cost per hour x fraction of employees affected by the power cut x average revenue for each hour x fraction of the revenue that was affected by the outage

Is it worth the risk?

Every business is different, so you must set your own priorities. If your company relies on computers and data, you should look at installing an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) that will allow your devices to run off battery power in the event of a power cut. Most companies now rely on an internet connection too, which means it could be difficult to cope without one. If you set up a MiFi – which can operate as a WiFi hotspot – your staff will be able to connect to an ad-hoc network which can help you operate when a power cut does strike.

You must think ahead and form a plan that your team can follow. Do this by creating a team or committee that will determine the specific risks to your business — a small IT company will have different points to consider compared to a large factory — and then draw up a detailed process for mitigating these risks.

This article was provided by Flogas LPG, gas refill suppliers.