422nd CS, CES tackle B31 UPS replacement

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Eugene Oliver
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

Airmen and civilian personnel from the 422nd Communications and Civil Engineer Squadrons replaced a B31 Uninterruptable Power System Nov. 14, at RAF Croughton.

The B31 UPS helps power the 422nd CS technical control facility that serves as one of the main hubs of communication across 5 MAJCOMS. The original B31 UPS was replaced due to it falling below Defense Information System Agency standards for a partially manned facility.

“The B31 UPS system is a critical component in achieving high availability demands of its customers,” said Thomas Edgar, 422nd CS plans and programs section chief. “It allows the TCF to remain operational and without service interruption during scheduled and unscheduled power outages.

The new system and batteries achieve the goal of greater reliability at a reduced cost toward maintenance.”

Typically a B31 UPS system should be operating at an uptime of several hours in case of a power outage, however the old UPS system was operating at close to 30 minutes which is why it had to be replaced.

“In the case of a power outage the battery giving us those extra hours and allows us ample time to get in and start troubleshooting said Senior Airman Justin Goeppinger, 422nd CS cyber transport systems apprentice. “With this extra time we can maybe kick on a generator just in case it doesn’t kick on or find alternative means to keep the power.”

Over 12 Airmen and civilian personnel played a key role in the coordination, installation, oversight and testing of the new B31 UPS system and shed light on one of the key challenges they faced throughout the process.

“The weight and size of the battery posed the biggest challenge to us,” said Senior Airman Todd Carlstrom, 422nd CS cable and antenna systems apprentice. “We were told that the UPS battery weighed approximately 1,500 kilograms which is over 3,200 pounds so it was quite a task to get it moved.”

The course of action that the team took to physically replace the old B31 UPS involved multiple Airmen helping to move the system onto a forklift while then supporting it as it was removed from the loading dock.

“Removal of the old equipment was an unexpected challenge,” said Edgar. “Safety concerns arose during the contracted removal in which 422nd CS personnel stepped in to mitigate the risks, provided expertise and assistance to the movers.”

“Removal would have not been completed as scheduled without the 422nd CS support.”

According to Edgar, a UPS replacement can be one of the most complicated upgrades to accomplish successfully for an operational communications facility. But it’s the willingness to complete the mission despite the challenges thrown in your way that demonstrates true resiliency.

“The replacement has to be engineered properly to ensure the new system can be installed with the least amount of service interruption,” said Edgar. “The level of coordination and teamwork required to ensure any scheduled interruptions are done with the lowest amount of impact is key. Appropriately identifying risks and categorizing them in order for command-level decisions to be made as accurately as possible is key to our overall mission.”