Following the greatly publicized issues British Airways IT Facility recently faced with unauthorized disconnection and connection of power by an unauthorized engineer at their IT Center, there will be many questions asked about how this can be avoided and the impact to customers averted.
The technology to prevent this kind of costly mistake is already widely used across the data center and switchgear industries. That technology is trapped key interlocks safety systems.
Trapped key interlocks can ensure that the correct process is followed when disconnecting cables, gaining access to cabinets, powering down and powering up IT switchgear. This is done through interlocking keys that ensure a predetermined procedure for operations is followed in sequence and eliminates mistakes and human error. Trapped key interlocks introduce a physical barrier to switches being moved, cabinets being accessed, and cables being disconnected until it is safe, from an equipment or personnel point of view, to do so.
To further ensure that only trained and authorized personnel can begin the process of switch on, switch off, or cable disconnection, a Smart Key Manager can be used in conjunction with trapped key interlocks. The Smart Key Manager retains the primary trapped key that initiates the sequence and procedures. This key can only be released by using an RFID card issued to individuals who are authorized. Furthermore, a Smart Key Manager tracks those engineers who initiated processes, how long the key was in use, and reports operational history. This can be combined with alarms and notices to alert senior engineers and managers when keys have been released or have been in use for too long.
Implementing a combination of a Smart Key Manager and trapped key interlocks protect assets, personnel, and perhaps in the recent cases, the reputation of a business.