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Air Cargo Carriers

BladeUPS keeps Air Cargo’s operations flying high

“It future-proofed us … We wanted a solution that was more robust than our current capacity requirements. And beyond that, something we could scale to meet our future needs.”

Brien Gillstrom
Marketing Coordinator at Air Cargo Carriers

Background

Since taking flight in 1986, Air Cargo Carriers, Inc. has been synonymous with dependability and quality in the air freight industry. While the company prides itself on the ability to safely and swiftly transport goods from point A to point B, Air Cargo Carriers’ responsibilities extend far beyond simply moving cargo.

Not only does the company operate the world's largest civilian fleet of Shorts Brothers 330 and 360 aircraft, Air Cargo Carriers and its subsidiaries also provide a comprehensive range of services that include avionics, instrument system repairs, calibration and complete PT6 engine overhauls, as well as training on one of only two Shorts simulators in the world. In addition to its regularly scheduled routes, the company offers on-demand service to anywhere in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Challenge

As Air Cargo Carriers has grown over the years, so has the number of industries it serves. In order to keep up with the demand, the organization relies on a centralized data base that houses a wealth of information, including all of its pilot records, air craft records and vital maintenance information. In addition, the system is used to store employee and accounting data, track fuel prices, and respond to customer inquiries such as freight cost quotations.

“All of the numbers we enter into the system have to be readily accessible,” explains Brien Gillstrom, the company’s marketing coordinator.“ Because we move freight with an air fleet from all over the country, we constantly have to have that information in front of us, to give to customers and pilots.”

Even more, Air Cargo Carriers relies on its mission-critical systems to store extensive FAA documentation which — if ever lost or unavailable — could result in stiff fines and penalties. “We need to make sure we are always in compliance,” Gillstrom emphasizes. Earlier this year, when the company consolidated its servers and upgraded to a blade system, it recognized the importance of also bolstering its power protection solution. Previously hindered by an uninterruptible power system (UPS) that provided just an hour of backup time, Air Cargo Carriers felt vulnerable to the area’s frequent power anomalies.

“Wisconsin weather can become an issue and you find your power can go out from time to time,” Gillstrom explains. “With less than an hour of backup time, we would have to send someone to Home Depot to pick up a generator and hope that everything stayed running until they got back. That just was too short of a window,” he acknowledges. “It wasn’t a feasible option for us anymore.”

In addition to exceptional availability and sufficient backup time, Air Cargo Carriers sought a solution that wouldn’t consume valuable real estate on its data center floor. Also of key importance was a robust UPS capable of accommodating the company’s plans for growth.

Solution

After thoroughly researching various options, Air Cargo discovered that one UPS soared above the competition: the BladeUPS from Eaton®. “Our IT manager is very meticulous about what he brings in,” Gillstrom reports.

Having installed a 12 kVA/12 kW model in February, the company is flying high with a new level of reliability.

“The BladeUPS unit is protecting all of our servers. Essentially, it protects our entire 24/7 operation,” says Gillstrom.

Specifically designed for high-density computing environments, the BladeUPS packs 12 kW of efficient, reliable power into just 6U of standard rack space — including the batteries. Capable of expanding from 12 kW to 60 kW in a single industry-standard 19-inch rack, the unit’s scalable architecture can easily keep pace with escalating IT requirements.

“We’re on the cusp of a rather large expansion,” notes Gillstrom. “We have some aggressive growth coming down the road here and we definitely needed something scalable that could grow with us.”

Air Cargo was also impressed by the UPS’s industry-leading 97 percent efficiency, which can save thousands of dollars in both power and cooling charges. Even at half load — where other UPSs typically achieve much lower efficiency — the BladeUPS still performs more efficiently than competitive modular products at full load, while dissipating one-third of the heat.

“Reducing energy costs through a more efficient unit cuts our operating costs,” Gillstrom confirms.

In addition, the high efficiency rating helps extend battery runtimes and produce cooler operating conditions, both of which contribute to longer component life and further bolster reliability and performance. Boasting the smallest footprint of any UPS in its class, the BladeUPS’ compact design offers a higher power density than competitive modular solutions, leaving more space for IT equipment.

The ability to deploy the UPS in a rack environment was also a boon for the freight company. “We were definitely looking to consolidate everything into a rack system,” Gillstrom says. “Space isn’t a huge issue for us right now, but it may become an issue in the future.”

To achieve the highest level of availability possible, BladeUPS units can be arranged in a parallel configuration using Eaton Hot Sync® technology. Built directly into the BladeUPS, Hot Sync allows each UPS module to operate independently – yet completely synchronized with the others – eliminating any single point of failure. Furthermore, its intelligent design automatically detects parallel modules and fully configures itself for parallel operations. Up to six BladeUPS modules can be paralleled for additional capacity or redundancy to deliver up to 60 kW of power.

Furthermore, Air Cargo Carriers appreciates the fact that the solution essentially operates on auto-pilot. This is due, in part, to the ability for administrators to monitor and manage the UPS using the unit’s LCD panel or remote monitoring software. By providing data for the entire system — as well as the individual module — the UPS keeps users informed of power conditions and operating parameter at all times.

With the BladeUPS system now in place, it seems the sky’s the limit for Air Cargo Carriers when it comes to its power protection needs.

“It basically future-proofed us,” says Gillstrom. “We wanted a solution that was more robust than our current capacity requirements. And beyond that, something we could scale to meet our future needs.”

Implementation

Because of its unique design, the BladeUPS can be deployed in a number of manners, from a distributed architecture with one unit in each rack, to an end of row configuration with up to six units in a rack, to a central system placed in the electrical closet rather than on the IT floor.

Air Cargo Carriers, which configured the solution itself, lauds the unit’s ease of installation. “It was easy to set up,” Gillstrom reports. “And we’ve found the system to be very user-friendly.”

More importantly, the BladeUPS proved its value at Air Cargo Carriers almost immediately. “Within a week of installing the solution, one of the lines coming into our facility basically had a meltdown,” Gillstrom shares. “The UPS kicked in and saved us. It kept everything up and running for the entire three hours we were without power.It more than justified itself from a cost standpoint.”

Result

Since implementing the BladeUPS solution, Air Cargo Carriers’ critical systems have remained free from any turbulence. With the UPSs in place, the company is now able to:

  • Ensure continuous availability and uptime to its entire server line
  • Keep its vital records assessable at all times
  • Easily expand its power protection solution in a cost-efficient manner to accommodate future growth
  • Achieve sufficient battery backup time in the event of an extended power outage
  • Save valuable data center space with the UPS’s high power density and rackmount deployment