Local Firm Touts Modular UPS System

Posted on August 1, 1996 
Filed Under Julian, Nikkei Electronics Asia

By Julian Matthews

Local Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) manufacturer P K Electronics Industries Bhd has invented an online UPS unit which it claims is the first truly modular system of its kind in the world.

The US9000 comes in single-size 1kVA power modules weighing about 18kg each that can be stacked in cabinets. The cabinets come in many different sizes and can be expanded to a few hundred slots. Each module has a built-in battery with standard backup time. In situations where backup time needs to be extended, additional similar-sized battery modules can be plugged into the cabinet slots.

Loh said ease of installation and maintenance made the product superior to existing products on the markets. Current UPS systems in large computer and industrial applications are heavy, bulky and take up a lot of space. They are also difficult to install and move around. The US9000 modules are easily transportable and assembled.

Loh says the US9000 system is also “hot-swappable”, meaning all parts are serviceable while the system is still running.”If one module is faulty it can be simply pulled out and replaced with another without affecting the power supply. In current UPS systems, the entire system has to be shut down to conduct repairs,” says Loh.

Loh says it took a year for his 20-man research and development team to come up with the US9000 system.

The findings of their market research was that customers wanted a system which was easily upgradeable and in line with the rapid growth for computing needs in their respective companies. “Computers have become the nerve centre of most businesses. Users wanted a backup power system that could grow with the evolving computing needs of a company. They wanted a system that could be easily serviced without having to interrupt or even shutdown operations,” he says.

With the new product, Loh is confident that PK Electronics can double its sales to US$28 million for the 1996-97 fiscal year.

PK Electronics currently serves Europe and Southeast Asian countries which are regarded as second-tier markets in the global UPS business. He says demand for UPS products is on the rise in tandem with growing power supply and computing needs in the world. In many countries, power supply is erratic, caused by inadequate maintenance and strains brought on by huge demand of increasingly power-hungry industrial sectors.

US$5 Billion Market

Citing a recent industry report, Loh estimates that the world market for UPS systems is about US$5 billion in 1996 and has shown steady growth of between 14% and 15% annually.

Loh says the high-end products of the market is dominated by American and European manufacturers while the lower-end products are a number of small Taiwanese makers. “Japanese manufacturers were driven out of their overseas market by the strong yen,” he says.

“Since we could not compete with established brand names or in cheap pricing, we decided to concentrate our efforts on innovation,” he says.

Loh says with the US9000 system, PK Electronics would be able to carve a niche in the global market which is very fragmented, and in which no single player commands more than a 10% share.

In the coming years, Loh says the company is focusing on extending its reach into Thailand, the Philippines, China, India, Taiwan, North and South America and African countries. It also plans to license its proprietary technology to countries keen on OEM-manufacturing of the product.

Loh says his design team is currently working on a line-interactive version of US9000 product for single users and small networks to be made available this year. The present US9000 is an online-type power backup meant for corporate and industrial use from minis to mainframe-based networks. Loh says both products will then be able to serve a wide spectrum of users of UPS systems.

The company will expand its present 18,600 square meter factory located in the Senawang Industrial Estate in Seremban. It has just purchased another 12 hectare parcel of land nearby on which it plans build a new factory.

In operation since 1986, the factory employs 300 people. The factory received its ISO 9000 qualification in 1991 and is operating under the government’s tax-exempt pioneer status.

Published in Nikkei Electronics Asia, August 01, 1996

by Julian Matthews, Malaysian correspondent

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