I can hazard a guess that if you ask someone on the street what they think of when you mention security, 80% of the population will answer with one of 3 areas, home security, security at work or online security. Security is a specialist field. Even broken up into those three areas, each one is a specialist field of its own. There are specific and detailed things you need to know about home security, online security and security in a place of work. Rarely does a company that deals with one field of security get involved with another field of security. In the same vein, it is very rare that any company handles its own on-site security.
I would wager that if you are reading this in a large building right now, the security guard that checks or issues badges at the front desk does not work for your company but rather for a specialist security company. Security in all its guises is a specialized area that requires a much broader view of national trends, what is happening and what everyone else is doing to keep pace with the ever evolving battle of keeping others out of places where they don’t belong. This is known and generally accepted. Why is it then, when it comes to batteries, no one thinks it requires any specialized expertise? Years of selling battery monitoring systems to clients has taught me there are three common schools of thought on the subject.
Mindset One – TOTAL DENIAL
Mindset one is a form of denial. The client does not believe that they need any kind of battery care regime at all. Everyone knows they have a battery in their car and all they have to do is keep it charged so it’s a simple thing and easy to deal with any issues that come up. Sadly when the issue does come up it is inevitably too rapid and too late to address it before the power drops out.
Mindset Two – HALF YEARLY OR QUARTERLY MAINTENANCE IS SUFFICIENT
Mindset Two folks typically believe that half yearly or quarterly maintenance is quite sufficient. After all, doing this has served them well in the past and nothing has ever gone wrong. I suspect, it’s rather like being in the burglar alarm business. You have people who have not been burgled and possibly never will be. There are those that think “it will never happen to me”…until it does, and there are those who have been burgled. These “mindset two” types invariably rely on the fact that they replace their batteries every 4 years on a regular basis and feel that this means they escape battery failure by replacing them before they go faulty. In fact not only are they at just as much risk as mindset one, but they are also not getting the maximum life out of their asset.
Mindset Three – THE ENLIGHTENED FEW
Those with Mindset Three are the enlightened few who realize that it is just a matter of time before they have a battery failure. Mindset Three folks realize that a quarterly check-up actually leaves 361 days when they have no idea what their batteries are up to. It’s a big step and kudos to those who are open and willing to take that initial leap into regular monitoring. If you have made it to the final “enlightened” mindset, then there are several stages that you must go through.
Stage 1 – Department buy-in
There is much grinding of teeth in various departments over the cost of the system (which incidentally, should last 20 years or more don’t forget). Assuming you get buy-in from those various other departments you are free and clear to move to stage 2. For some reason the cost of a battery monitor has always been compared with the price of the battery, however, when you consider the complexity of a monitor compared to a battery, there is no logic to why this should be the case. It still remains an argument to this day. A good return on investment (ROI) can help and is usually based on the monitor lasting over the lives of several battery change outs and additional savings on service and maintenance costs.
Stage 2 - Installation and commissioning
Stage 2 involves the installation and commissioning of the system, which can be a large job. (Even if you think you are the least likely person in the world to use battery monitoring, at least have some monitoring tabs put on the battery when it is replaced. You will thank yourself or at the very least your successor may thank you and doing so will halve the cost and time of installing a system).
Stage 3 - Who is analyzing the data?
Finally, when everyone leaves the site there is peace. The system is running and everyone feels warm and satisfied with a job well done. If the battery monitoring system was installed on a battery that is three years old or more then I can almost guarantee that the system will have detected a problem which no one was aware of. This is always very satisfying to me as it helps support all those within the company who pushed to have the system installed in the first place. These initial problems are usually found when the battery monitoring engineer is on site and so detection is effectively determined by an expert looking at the information. The battery monitoring engineer has seen enough systems and batteries to know when one is looking weak or bad and he has a vested interest in getting everything running smoothly before he leaves. So all is good, but what happens after that?
The first few hurdles are sorted out, the responsibility for looking at the battery is very often given to someone who has several other roles within the facility and someone who is not an expert. This inevitably happens and after all the thought, time and money that has gone into getting that equipment in place it is the engineer that becomes the man responsible for determining whether the clever system scanning and logging all the data from what might be several hundred batteries is functional or not.
When you do finally commit to having a monitoring system (of any kind) installed, please think it all the way through. No monitoring system today is smart enough to actually analyze the battery data, so who is going to be looking at all the data which the system provides and who is going to be skilled enough to determine what to do with that data when it arrives? It’s a simple last step that many fail to take.
In this modern age, it is common that we get so immersed in the fact that we can gather data from almost anything, that we forget about what we are going to do with that data when it is collected. My advice? Hand the information over to the experts just like you do with your security, then you can safely forget your batteries just like you forget your security.