Keeping MediaCityUK protected

How KUP supported the BBC’s need for a comprehensive battery upgrade and helped safeguard its power protection infrastructure for the future

The BBC represents one of a handful of UK institutions that we interact with almost every day. Whether it’s listening to the news on Radio 4, watching Match of the Day on TV or catching up on EastEnders via the iPlayer, the BBC is available 24/7/365. Maintaining 100% uptime requires comprehensive UPS systems – with large banks of batteries connected to standby generators ­– to ensure that a loss of mains power doesn’t impact its ability to provide content around the world.

Maintaining this level of protection requires regular maintenance and periodic upgrades to replace elements of the UPS system that have a finite life. A UPS system’s batteries, which manage the supply to the critical load and the transition from the mains to the standby generators, last on average seven to eight years, with their lifespan impacted by a number of factors, such as ambient temperature and the number of discharges.

It was with this in mind that the BBC’s facilities management partner, Interserve, approached KUP, with a requirement to replace the 5,000+ VRLA batteries that support 14 separate UPS systems across three buildings within the BBC’s MediaCityUK campus in Salford Quays.

Battery bank

Between them, the three buildings (Bridge House, Dock House and Quay House) are home to 2,700 BBC staff. The entire centre is one of the largest HDTV programme-making facilities in Europe and is the home of BBC Children’s (CBeebies and CBBC) and BBC Sport, BBC Radio 5 Live and 6Music, as well as BBC Radio Manchester and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

BBC logo

KUP has a well-established relationship with the BBC and Interserve, already working together to provide and maintain UPS related products and services to seven BBC sites, making it a natural choice for this project. However, in line with the BBC’s procurement policies, three organisations were approached and asked to provide written quotes. KUP was selected as the successful supplier and the contract was awarded in July 2019. As well as its experience in managing projects of this type, the contract was awarded to KUP based on its considered recommendation, which identified the best solution for the BBC’s requirements, not simply replicating what was previously installed.

Stuart Insch, Projects Engineering Manager for KUP, commented on the contract:

“Having worked with the BBC and Interserve for many years, we were delighted to again come out on top and win this important contract. KUP is known for the strength of its service network and ability to manage projects of this size, and our experience was key to ensuring the entire project was managed safely, in a timely manner and without ever exposing the critical load. Once the specification for the batteries, their configuration and supporting infrastructure was agreed, the batteries were ordered from the manufacturer, Yuasa and installation began in mid-September. The project was completed just six weeks later – on time, on budget and without issue.

 “That said, the project was not without its own unique challenges. Chief among these was the site security, with an essential requirement to coordinate our own staff and third parties in order to secure access to the site. We were provided with specific time slots for deliveries and each delivery had to be registered against a specific vehicle. It was nothing we couldn’t handle through good communication and careful planning. Everyone from the client’s side was delighted with the outcome and we are now preparing to complete the next phase in the project, installing power loggers to each of the battery systems to record battery temperatures at regular intervals to help maximise the lifespan of the system.”

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