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Area companies make, sell the devices that keep businesses going

Driven by the hunger for continuous, reliable power, the market for uninterruptible power supplies is expanding.

Businesses, hospitals and even homes increasingly rely on “UPS” devices.

Essentially sophisticated battery packs, UPS devices can keep computers, servers, medical equipment and more going in the wake of a disruption to utility power. They can give businesses enough time to switch over to diesel-powered generators or to turn computer equipment off in a safe, orderly fashion. They’re also valued for power conditioning and surge protection.

The worldwide UPS market will grow to $13.2 billion by 2015, according to a 2011 report from clean technology research firm Pike Research. A more recent analysis this year from technology consultant Frost & Sullivan said the UPS market in economically sluggish Europe earned $1.98 billion in 2012 and is projected to reach $2.3 billion by 2015.

“For certain high-end users like banks and data centers, power availability is crucial,” Frost & Sullivan said in a statement. “Even a minute of downtime leads to huge monetary losses.”

The Dayton area has numerous UPS users, manufacturers, distributors and, installers.

Data-driven companies like Reynolds and Reynolds, Teradata and LexisNexis use UPS devices. Companies like Staco Energy Products Co. in Dayton and German-owned Rittal Corp. in Urbana make the devices. Hughes-Peters Inc. and Dayton’s Uptime Solutions Associates Inc. sell and distribute them. Companies like Kastle Electric in Moraine install and maintain them.

Mark Counts, Huber Heights branch manager of Hughes-Peters, described this part of the state as the “epicenter” for high-end UPS production.

Mikki Clancy, vice president and chief information officer at Premier Health Partners, said Premier’s hospitals and offices have relied on UPS backups for years to protect the company’s “multi-million dollar investment” in its data centers and smaller data closets.

Premier has 200-300 data closets or computer “network closets” companywide, while it maintains several larger data centers that are homes to mainframes, Clancy said. She estimated that Premier has invested some $1 million in UPS capacity, often arrayed in “redundant” modes to ensure even greater stability.

“As our computer power demands become more and more, we use them (UPS backups) more and more,” she said.

One turning point for local UPS users was the mid-September 2008 wind storm that blew through the Miami Valley in the wake of Hurricane Ike, said Doug Davidson, controller at at Uptime Solutions Associates.

That storm shut down power for up to several days for thousands in the Dayton area, and many business-owners came to a new appreciation of UPS technology, Davidson said. Hurricane Sandy last October in New York and New Jersey had a similar impact, he added.

“Events such as those can cause people to be more aware,” Davidson said.

Big weather events like hurricanes “certainly teach people to be anxious” about power reliability, said Sam Jaffe, a senior research analyst with Pike Research. Recovery times from destructive weather events seem to be getting longer, too, which can have an impact, he said.

“It’s definitely growing,” Jaffe said of worldwide UPS demand. “It’s more of a mature type of growth rather than a wildfire growth.”

Jaffe expects global UPS purchases to grow by 6.5 percent worldwide over the next decade, with 7.5 percent growth expected in the United States and Canada and 8.4 percent growth in Europe. He put expected growth in Asia at just under 5 percent.

“Those are pretty nice growth numbers,” Jaffe said.

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