Knightdale, N.C.-based Electronic Systems Protection (ESP/SurgeX) is a leader in smart energy management and power protection products. Its comprehensive product portfolio offers a complete line of AC power solutions for surge protection, power conditioning, analytics gathering, and control of sensitive electrical and electronic equipment. Backed with 37 patents/patents pending, ESP/SurgeX products are engineered to safeguard against power anomalies that can “confuse” the circuitry in digital equipment and cause both equipment degradation and downtime.
Dave Perrotta is vice president of operations and engineering for ESP/ SurgeX, and has engineered patented power protection diagnostics and energy management solutions for the imaging industry for over 10 years. Perrotta recently took some time with Casino Journal Editor Paul Doocey to discuss ESP/SurgeX and the importance of power protection for the gaming industry. Here are some excerpts from that conversation:
Please describe ESP/SurgeX and what sets it apart from other power protection companies.
Perrotta: At heart, ESP/SurgeX is a premium power protection company. We understand the power protection market; we have been in it a long time. Our devices and our patents are designed such that it provides the best protection in the industry, with the ability to last a lifetime. That is how we distinguish ourselves.
Going beyond that, we have made this technology intelligent. Not only do we protect, we also gather a large amount of information with our technology to then enable the diagnosis of power problems and giving the end user the ability to solve those problems.
Today, ESP/SurgeX products are used in several industries through various channels. For example, in the office equipment and IT vertical markets, many of the OEMs carry our devices as a standard part of their products. When they sell a product, in many cases power protection is provided by our systems.
We also have integrators and consultants that spec our products for certain applications; for everything from NEMA enclosures for entire room protection to the plug-level protection.
As of today, ESP/SurgeX devices are used in the office equipment industry and the pro-AV market. Over the last several years, we have also moved into the IT, gaming and kiosk spaces.
Why did ESP/SurgeX decide to enter the gaming space?
Perrotta: Our products have been designed to protect specific kinds of power supplies that were used in advanced equipment. These same power supplies are found in a lot of different verticals, including the gaming industry. Gaming shares the same power problems as these industries we’re already in. So it made sense to look at this vertical… the way power problems can affect the revenue stream for casino games is very similar to the office equipment and IT markets.
What are some of the power issues gaming operators face?
Perrotta: In gaming, as more and more advanced equipment is being placed on the floor, likely all drawing from the same power circuits and grids, these products are susceptible to electrical surges and other power issues that cause nuisance problems, whereby the equipment malfunctions and has to be constantly serviced. In addition, you’ll find the units are failing at a higher rate than they should or constantly need new power supplies, replacement control boards, etc.
Of course, all these issues impact revenue…. when a bank of machines is down because of service or failure, it is not generating any money for the property.
Are gaming operators educated when it comes to power problems and potential solutions?
Perrotta: Not really, but that is not uncommon for us. Very few times do we go into a new market and talk about power protection with people that actually know what a power problem looks like. Almost every business, including the gaming industry, thinks of a power problem as a lightning strike or a major blackout, and the issues that arise after one or both of these things occur.
In reality, it takes some effort to educate an industry and get them to notice the warning signs, such as premature failure of UPS battery backup devices and power supplies on machines or inexplicable lockups and other malfunctions.
How do your energy intelligence products help casinos?
Perrotta: A lot of the information we acquire with our products is related to counts on the number of anomalies—surges, over-voltages, under-voltages, power outages—and the times and dates they happen. With just that information alone, you can usually determine if the problems are mechanical or electrical and nature, which makes the servicing of the machine much more efficient. For example, if the same thing is happening to a group of machines at the same time every day, and you notice our system is reporting power anomalies at the same time, then you need to chase the power problem. Our energy intelligence products keep operators from unnecessarily replacing equipment.
And there is even more information that we track from the environment with our more advanced devices that make that an even easier task. We can provide the level of detail needed to determine if a power issue is a transformer or a supply problem, which, once again prevent unnecessary repair, replacement or service calls.
How do you explain ROI for ESP/SurgeX products to operators?
Perrotta: It is all about uptime. When you have to send service techs all over your floor because equipment is down, you are not generating revenue.
When we first get to a property, we ask to examine the equipment that is operating the worst and quickly determine if our power protection devices can solve the issue and allow these machines to function at a much more steady and sustainable rate, which will ultimately approve uptime.
A major casino operator in the southeast that called us in because equipment confined to a certain section of the casino floor was constantly down and they were replacing UPS battery backups at an alarming rate. By placing our protection on these devices, we extended the life of those battery backups and increased the uptime of the equipment.
In terms of the ROI, it was determined we saved that property $100 per machine, per month, in addition to $40 per machine, per month by solving the UPS issue. They ended up installing our power protection devices on all their slot machines.
Whenever you have machine downtime and people are waiting to play, that is money they are not spending and that you are not collecting.