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Top 10 Industries that would be Affected Most by a Power Outage

Industrial Building in Secure Complex

Data on electricity consumption in the U.S. by various sectors, as provided by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), reveals that residential usage tops the list with 36 percent, followed by 32 percent utilization by the commercial sector, 29 percent by the industrial sector and the remaining is attributed to miscellaneous usages. In an age where functioning of businesses in inconceivable in the absence of electrical power, even a brief power outage can cause tremendous losses of productivity, material and revenues. The degree of impact caused by a power failure to an individual company varies by industry and the nature of applications. It can range from being disruptive to life threatening.

Here’s a quick look at industries and business functions that are severely hampered by power failures:

1. Manufacturing Industries

Power outages bring production lines to an abrupt halt. This may translate into loss of material, breakdown of machinery, and loss of productive time. This may also cause supply chains to shut down altogether.  Visit this article, Diesel Generators Keep Business Operational, for further details on how power outages can affect the manufacturing industry. 

2. Financial Corporations

It is not difficult to imagine the chaos a power outage can cause to the stock market. In an industry where millions of dollars can be made in profit within a fraction of a second, power outages render financial corporations unable to carry out crucial transactions on time. This is synonymous with millions of unrecoverable dollars per minute of downtime followed by several additional hours of recovery time.

3. Consulting and Information Technology (IT) Services

Consulting services firms and software development facilities house hundreds of highly paid professionals. Even a brief period of downtime leaves them stranded and results in loss of billable hours. In an age where IT operations are an organization’s window to the rest of the world, power outages result in crashed computer systems, lost data and abrupt termination of communications with clients. This is often followed by several weeks of effort spent in recreating hundreds of man-hours of work. Programs and data may get corrupted resulting in software recovery operations that may not be resolved for weeks.

4. Data Centers

Traffic Control Center

Data centers form the backbone of operations for several organizations such as financial services firms, insurance companies, and IT services firms among many others. Power failures here can cause an irrecoverable loss of thousands of records stored over the years and disrupt ongoing transactions as well.

5. Perishable Items

Pharmaceutical industries, petrochemical industries and food processing plants rely heavily on uninterrupted availability of power for storage and preservation of perishables that have extremely limited life spans. Power outages can cause in-process products worth several millions of dollars to be discarded due to damage, spoilage or contamination.

6. Control Centers

Traffic signal operations, public transport systems like the railways, control centers for air traffic management, telecommunications and utilities, all rely heavily on continuous power supply for smooth functioning. Disruption in such critical operations can jeopardize the safety and security of millions of unsuspecting consumers in an instant.

7. Medical Facilities

In hospitals, patients’ lives are delicately supported by health monitoring systems. The following article, Role of Diesel Generators in the Healthcare Industry, provides a more in depth look at the negative effects of power interruptions in the healthcare industry.  Any discontinuity in the normal functioning of medical equipment can directly translate into loss of many lives.

8. Military Operations

Power outages render valuable equipment, weaponry and even personnel, defenseless, and hence, exposing them to the risk of attack.

9. Entertainment Venues

Buildings Hosting Concerts Rely on Backup Power

Cancellation of money-spinning events even for brief periods of time equates to huge losses of revenue for entertainment facilities. For instance, an extended power outage in a casino can translate into losses of more than US$ 1mn per day. In addition to resulting in forced losses of revenues, abrupt termination of routine operations can also become hazardous to visitors and operating personnel as well. 

10. Safety and Security

In addition to causing inconvenience, power outages can endanger the safety of the common man. People trapped in or out of buildings with automated access control systems, elevators that come to a sudden halt and are plunged into darkness, fire alarms and water sprinklers that cease to function, inability to communicate via phone or email with emergency services – these are just a few examples of power outages becoming more than just a nuisance factor and threatening to endanger the safety and lives of millions of people simultaneously.

Electrical power outages, surges and spikes bring about more than $150 billion in annual damages to the U.S. economy. Every year, an estimated $104 billion to $164 billion goes down the drain due to power interruptions, while another $15 billion to $24 billion is lost on account of poor power quality such as voltage fluctuations, power surges and spikes. Specifically, industrial and digital business firms suffer losses amounting to $45 billion annually. Some industries, such as manufacturing, can lose as much as $6.45 million per hour of downtime. The benefits of investments made in necessary power backup arrangements far outweigh the shocking costs related to irreparable damages and irretrievable loss of revenues caused by downtimes.

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