Mar 262003

And I thought last week was fun.

Over the weekend, Progress Energy installed a new transformer at the office complex where I work. The load being placed on the previous transformer was reaching the limits of its capacity, so they were installing one that could handle the increasing power usage. The old one was removed, a crane lifted the new one into place, everything was hooked up, and the thing was turned on. And smoke commenced to pour out of nearby breakers.

After turning the thing off again, they examined the new transformer and discovered that, instead of a 3-phase 208-volt transformer as required, they had installed a 3-phase 480-volt transformer. A great deal of equipment which had run quite happily on a reasonable 208-volt current was very, very upset to be abruptly exposed to over twice that.

This week, the entire IT staff and a significant proportion of lab directors and quality assurance managers have spent every day testing and diagnosing all the equipment that was in the affected building. No critical data was lost, as those machines were safely powered by our generator for the switchover, but the lab equipment that acquires new data must all be checked and revalidated.

The UPS machines were the hardest hit. Many of their batteries exploded. Their strong cases kept the batteries contained, but now we have square UPS cases filled with lumpy, misshapen batteries. I don’t know about the other guys, but I plan to wear gloves if I have to try and pry them out of there.

Needless to say we are keeping track of all the equipment damaged and all the hours spent on straightening this mess out, and will be billing Progress Energy for it. As, no doubt, will all the other offices in the complex who were affected. I just hope someone yelled at PE a lot. I can think of a lot of work that needs to be doing that isn’t getting done while we’re all fixing this mess.

 Posted by at 2:38 pm

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