LTI Power Systems has 20 employees, making it a smaller company as definitions go, but some of its customers are the biggest around. And they bring with them big challenges.
The company provides uninterruptible power systems, inverters and power protection products for the New York City Subway system, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, NASA, Dish Network, U.S. Steel, hospitals and many others.
LTI installed 116 UPS units on the pipeline, all possible because of the small modification.
To illustrate how LTI was able to handle a challenge, President Robert J. Morog cites the Trans-Siberian Pipeline’s unique situation.
“There are a lot of other UPS manufacturers around the world that they could’ve chosen but we were the only ones willing to make modifications to our systems,” he says.
The pipeline has some of the monitoring units two days away from civilization and are in a relatively small building.That meant there was space only for a small battery plant that would last at full load for only 15 minutes should a power outage occur.
“That wasn’t going to work. So we modified our UPS to send a radio signal during an outage and put our UPS into a sleep mode but would draw very little power,” Morog says. “Then they would resend the signal, activate the UPS, take readings, make any needed adjustments to the flow and put the UPS back to sleep.”“We do things like that where other manufacturers wouldn’t. If it is a strange project, that’s even better for us because we like it, we will figure out a way to engineer it, and do it,” Morog says.
CTA was surprised
Customization also played a large part in a UPS system for the Chicago Transit Authority that LTI installed last year. CTA was using UPS units from a competitor but they were failing almost monthly following voltage spikes. The trains use a third rail that supplies 800 volts of DC electricity for power.
“They contacted us and asked if we could design a unit that could tolerate a 3,000 V DC spike and survive in the dirty conditions in the subway. So we designed a couple of 60 kVA units for CTA . We simulated not just a 3,000- but a 6,000-volt spike for testing.
Morog says the CTA engineers questioned why the UPS unit didn’t shut off — that something must have been wrong.
“I said, ‘It’s not supposed to shut off. It’s supposed to survive that,’ and they said, ‘Oh, we’ve never seen that before. All the other units shut off to protect themselves.’”
The units have been working well and CTA has ordered more of the UPS systems.
When a large project is landed, LTI hires temporary workers to help meet the challenge — and has developed a resource into which it can tap.
Morog has found a supply of retired and laid off electronics workers from area companies.
“So there are a lot of people with the skills that we need, that have an electrical background and know how to build printed circuit boards and wire harnesses,” he says. “We will bring them in, and they are happy just to work a few months.”
He also said his HR manager was in a similar position at an area electronics firm and has been instrumental in bringing in good people that he knew from previous experience.
LTI also has working relationship with colleges and vocational schools.
“I’ll always look at it as if they have a good attitude as an employee, you can always teach them. They will end up being a very good employee. But if they don’t have a good attitude, it doesn’t matter how much they know. They will never be a good employee.”
Founded in 1995, LTI is operated by Morog and his sons Dustin and Kyle. Morog finds the smaller size of the company also helps employee engagement.
“They see the big picture; they’re not just in a cubicle doing one function all day. They are involved in a project from its conception, to sketching it out, to actually manufacturing it, testing it, demonstrating it, shipping it and all the stages involved.
“They understand and know what is at stake. And it helps me out, too. We might be in a situation where are trying to meet a deadline and they will put out extra effort or overtime, whatever it takes,” he says.
How to contact: LTI Power Systems, (888) 327-5050 or www.ltipowersystems.com