Friday, 20 January 2012 02:00

Disaster Preparedness Pays Off

Written by 

We have made various plans in case of disasters and Friday it paid off.  Not that it was a major disaster but the effects were troubling none-the less.

One of the planned scenarios is what happens if we lose utility power during our busiest part of shipping season.  When shipping up to 240 orders a day, we are processing a lot of invoices, packing lists and calling a lot of customers alerting them to their deliveries.  Being without computers, printers, copiers and phones was not something we wanted to have to do.

Friday it happened.  A long haul trucker making a delivery to us came in overnight and parked his rig in our lot.  In the morning he set out to go to the dock and failed to remember the power pole behind his truck. Crunch - he set of some electrical fireworks witnessed by Phillip Cox.  Results were a pole knocked cockeyed, split and wires ripped off our service feed.  Worse yet, the pole jerked wires down on a main line nearly a mile away.  Around 750 utility customers without power at 7:00 in the morning.

Power Pole Damagge

Southern California Edison truck holding up damaged pole.

We have several relatively small UPS Battery systems to service key areas like the phone system, main computer systems and key network switches.  These provide temporary power to override power glitches and provide an orderly shutdown if something more serious happens.  This was more than a minor power glitch and was not going to be fixed quickly.

Service Feed Damage

Service feed had to be replaced.

Generators to the rescue.  We have a number of generators.  The smaller ones run a lot of our strapping machines during harvest season or some field pumps when rains flood the fields.  We also have a large arc welder that can generate significant power when needed.  The problem with generators is they create "dirty" power and not something I would want to connect to sensitive electronics like computers.  This is where the UPS battery systems come into play.  Feed the dirty power to the UPS systems which cleans up the power for computer and printer use.

To make a long story short it worked as planned.  We did not get power back until 4:55 PM.  But we shipped anyway complete with all the paperwork.  Three main computers stayed up all day and so did the phone system (with minor blips off as I switched plugs).  Kept the network backbone up and one laser printer, one desktop and a couple of laptops.  We worked by window light which is why the laptops were used. Even plugged in the old (much smaller) fax in lieu of the one built into the multi-function copier which we could not supply with power.  Patti remembered that the small fax can make copies too.

New Pole Goes Up

New pole going in.

We got the essentials done to keep shipping and serving customers.  Unfortunately not enough window light and computers to keep all the office staff so many had an unplanned day off.  It also means I am another day behind in desk paperwork.

Neighbor Lost Power Too

Even our neighbor across the road had lines replaced

It was an interesting day and I am proud of our staff and how they handled everything.

Ron Ludekens 1/20/2012

More in this category: « Rainbows Grand Marshal »