Located near Dublin, Ga., Laurens County Schools serves more than 6,500 students across four elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools and one alternative campus. The public school district is committed to fostering student-centered communities that challenge children and young adults to become independent critical thinkers, problem solvers and contributing citizens.
Throughout Laurens County Schools, technology is a vital tool for students and staff, promoting effective learning in nearly every subject. That’s why, when the district was preparing to refresh its fleet of uninterruptible power systems (UPSs) in 2020, the ability to deliver continuous uptime was non-negotiable.
Identifying the Challenge
After being plagued by routine battery failures over the years with its UPSs – which play an important role in providing reliable power during outages – Laurens County Schools sought a new solution that would facilitate high availability and reliability with no interruptions in service. The district also wanted the ability to remotely monitor its UPSs and receive alerts about potential issues. Lastly, they desired power distribution units (PDUs) that would help give them a better and more effective understanding of their power consumption at the outlet level.
“Power issues can come in many forms, and over the years, we noticed that various incidents ── from inclement weather to increased demand ── were causing fluctuations in the power being fed into our schools,” explained Lance Smith, Director of Technology at Laurens County Schools. “We needed a solution we could count on to provide around-the-clock uptime regardless of the power condition.”
Across all nine of Laurens County Schools’ campuses, students rely on technology to perform day-to-day learning activities, from visiting educational websites to participating in state-mandated online testing. The COVID-19 pandemic spurred uptime requirements to an even more critical level, as students required access to the district’s network to engage in distance learning. Each student is assigned their own device as part of a 1:1 technology program, so the district supports upwards of 7,000 Chromebooks.
A Top-of-the-Class Power Protection Solution
On the recommendation of its service provider, Grainger Technology Company, Laurens County Schools replaced its previous UPS solution and turned to Eaton to identify a suitable solution. The district began by deploying a 12kVA Eaton 9PXM UPS to safeguard the transfer switch of its backup generator, as well as protect multiple servers, core network switching and security cameras. The scalable, modular UPS combines the highest levels of reliability and the lowest total cost of ownership, with a patented design that allows the district to add capacity or redundancy and increase runtime as its power needs change. In addition to offering plug-and-play power and battery modules that are lightweight and user replaceable, the 9PXM boasts a small footprint that can easily be converted for rack installation.
To support uptime in the network closets throughout its campuses, Laurens County Schools chose the Eaton 5P UPS. Rolling out 53 units, the district placed a 3000VA UPS within each main distribution frame (MDF) and a 2200VA model in every intermediate distribution frame (IDF). The enterprise-class backup power solution ── which can be deployed in a tower, wall-mount or rackmount configuration ── is primarily tasked with protecting network switches throughout the schools, as well as access door controllers and intercom systems.
Dotting the I’s and Crossing the T’s
Complementing the UPS fleet are 20 Eaton managed rack PDUs, which provide information at the outlet receptacle level on critical factors such as voltage, current and power factor. The units also feature remote on/off outlet switching that allows rebooting of connected equipment, as well as the ability to turn off outlets to prevent unauthorized use.
The district completed its backup power solution by pairing the Eaton Gigabit Network Card (Network-M2) with every UPS. The communication card, the first in the industry to comply with the UL and IEC cybersecurity standards, provides remote monitoring and management of all connected equipment through Eaton’s Intelligent Power Management (IPM) disaster avoidance software. Part of the Brightlayer Data Centers suite, IPM provides tools to monitor and manage all power devices on the district’s network, ensuring system uptime and data integrity. Both the HTML5-based software and the PDUs are managed as a service for Laurens County Schools by Grainger Technology Group.
Proof in the Results
With its end-to-end power management solution, Laurens County Schools is now able to achieve high availability and continuous uptime. The ability to remotely manage and monitor connected devices ensures that Smith and his team can successfully support all IT initiatives throughout the school’s network environment. And ABM technology will provide further benefits down the road in extending battery life and optimize battery health.
“It’s been great! We’ve experienced zero downtime and no problems. We couldn’t be happier,” said Smith.
David Windsor is a global product line manager in Eaton’s Power Segment. You can find more information at Eaton.com.