Babcock Power Inc.
Producing vital components for power plants requires reliable operations
Every time you flip a light switch, Babcock Power Inc. is probably somewhere at the other end. As one of the world’s leading suppliers of electrical generation technology, equipment, and services, Babcock Power supports many of America’s largest electric utilities. Through its various subsidiaries, Babcock Power Inc. (www.babcockpower.com) designs, manufactures, and services heat recovery steam generators and simple cycle exhaust systems; provides heat exchangers and after-market services, including moisture separator reheaters, steam surface condensers, and feedwater heaters for fossil-fired, nuclear and concentrated solar plants; and provides new steam generators, environmental solutions (including SCRs, flue gas scrubbers, and mercury removal systems), to the electric utility and waste-to-energy industries.
The Babcock organization employs 1,200 people spread over locations across the country, including Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Missouri, Texas, and Oklahoma. They rely on network access to the corporate data center for every major manufacturing and business process, from accounting, to sales, finance, customer support, engineering, and project management. Employees access the data center over a wide area network (WAN) based on terrestrial fiber and landline technologies.
Network downtime isn’t an option at Babcock, according to Director of IT Operations Keith Taylor. So when a natural disaster knocked one of the company’s facilities off the network, Taylor turned to Hughes for a fast, reliable solution to reconnect it.
Neither Babcock nor anyone else could predict the extraordinary damage that tornados would wreak on the U.S. Midwest during the spring of 2011. A tornado destroyed huge swaths of Joplin, Missouri, which is home to a facility of Babcock’s subsidiary, Thermal Engineering International (USA) Inc. The tornado ripped out much of the local copper and fiber telecommunications infrastructure that connected the Thermal Engineering facility to the corporate data center. Taylor needed to re-connect Joplin to the corporate network as soon as possible. He soon found Hughes and learned it could restore the network connection with its HughesNet® Business Internet service the very next day.
“We were scrambling, looking for a solution to re-connect the Joplin facility,” Taylor said. “We called around on the chance we could get someone out there to mount a satellite dish. I called Hughes and got someone in the call center—I think his name was Bob—and asked if he could expedite a request to get a dish. He took care of the request himself; it was nice not to be switched around. I talked to our business people and the plant manager and we decided to go with it. Within 24 hours, the plant manager called to say the Hughes technician was on the roof installing the satellite dish.”
The local communications infrastructure eventually was repaired, so the Joplin facility could reconnect to the network via terrestrial connections. However, Taylor kept the HughesNet service as a backup because he didn’t know how stable the local ground network would be while the area around it was being rebuilt. In addition, Taylor decided to provide additional protection should a tornado strike near Babcock’s other facilities around Tulsa, Oklahoma, so he called the same customer service representative and ordered HughesNet service for that location as well.
“Extended downtime would have an adverse effect on facility operations. Our business systems are accessed remotely. Everything from time collection to stored engineering data is resident on our company servers. A technician in Oklahoma who needs to know the right way to weld a plate can’t do it without engineering drawings. If he misplaces a drawing, his back up is to access the drawing information stored on a company server. If the network is down, he’s stuck until we can get him the information,” Taylor said. “In our business working with power plants, there are fixed outage windows for installation and maintenance. We pride ourselves on being efficient, timely, and resourceful. If we experience a delay for any reason, including a network outage caused by a disaster, we respond to meet the challenge.”
Taylor has decided to keep HughesNet high-speed satellite Internet access in place as a backup service for the company’s terrestrial WAN. “We’ve been looking for a backup solution because the copper infrastructure everywhere is deteriorating. While it’s being replaced by fiber, satellite service is appealing as a backup option. I like how fast Hughes can get us set up, and I also like dealing with a person who’s accessible and accountable.”
For more information, visit Business.HughesNet.com.