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Foodstuffs South Island maintains disruption-proof infrastructure with Eaton Feb 13, 2018


Since its establishment in 1922, Foodstuffs has grown to become the largest grocery distributor in New Zealand and one of the country’s largest organisations. Employing more than 30,000 people across the country, Foodstuffs is 100 per cent locally owned and operated. The company comprises two regional co-operatives, covering the north and south islands, and each is owned by its retail members. The company’s retails brands include New World, PAK’nSAVE, Four Square, Henry’s Beer Wine & Spirits, Raeward Fresh and On The Spot.

Keeping operations humming

In a busy supermarket, keeping the systems supporting retail activity operational is critical. Disruptions to back-end infrastructure or point-of-sale devices can result in lost sales and an immediate negative impact to the bottom line. For Foodstuffs South Island, this means keeping things humming across more than 170 sites is very important. “We have 59 server rooms across the South Island that drive our day-to-day operations,” says Foodstuffs South Island IT Infrastructure Manager Justin Farr. “They support everything from point-of-sale systems and back-office functions to LAN and WAN routers, in-store public address systems, advertising monitors and our phone systems.” Maintaining normal operations becomes difficult during times of power disruption. Inclement weather conditions and other factors can result in mains power services being disrupted with little or no notice. For this reason, Foodstuffs has deployed Eaton uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units for more than 10 years. Located in the company’s data centres and at each retail location, they provide continuity of power supply when mains connections fail. The company has 40 Eaton 9130 and 20 9SX core UPS units supporting its data centres and 50 5P units providing secondary support. There are also more than 1400 UPS units installed in stores to provide power redundancy for point-of-sale terminals. “Eaton has provided us with reliable, low-maintenance UPS units that give us the backup support that we need,” he says. “They provide a minimum of 40 minutes of power. In that window either normal supply can be restored or we have time to shut down our infrastructure in an orderly fashion.” 

UPS management

To assist in managing its large UPS fleet, Foodstuffs South Island has deployed Eaton Intelligent Power Management (IPM). Farr says this provides insight into the status of each unit and ensures emergency power supplies are available at all times. “At any time we can see what our power load is running at, how much off-line capacity we have and whether any units are actually running on UPS power,” he says. “We are also able to set thresholds so the system will alert us if any units are close to running out of power altogether.” The Foodstuffs IT team also has the ability to bypass its core UPS units utilising the Eaton Maintenance Bypass switch to undertake maintenance or replacement as required. This ensures mains power is maintained while the unit is off line.

Future plans

In coming months, the Foodstuffs South Island IT team has plans to streamline its UPS infrastructure. In smaller sites, larger 30KVA UPS N+1 solutions will be deployed that have the capacity to run the entire store with complete system redundancy. All equipment will obtain power from the central UPS unit which removes the need to have them installed in each checkout lane to support the POS systems. Foodstuff South Island is also planning to extend its use of Eaton IPM. Currently 96 UPS units are being monitored and this will be extended to more than 120 during the next 12 months. “We have a great working relationship with Eaton,” says Farr. “They understand our requirements and are very responsive to our requests.”