Manufacturers’ focus on data centers: Fire and life safety

Designing efficient and effective data centers and mission critical facilities is a top priority for consulting engineers.



  • John Kovach, Global Head of Data Center Initiatives, Siemens, Buffalo Grove, Ill.

Fire/Life safety

CSE: What new detection or suppression system, product, or method do you see becoming the most prevalent? Describe a recent project.

Kovach: Very early warning fire detection (VEWFD) is key to minimizing downtime in data centers—a fire can be detected at the very earliest stage. Today’s VEWFD systems tend to be air-aspirating with pipe networks that extend into the protected areas. Leading VEWFD systems such as the VESDA system can sense smoke particles at an obscuration level as low as 0.0015%/ft. This is much lower than the typical spot detector and therefore provides a warning much earlier in the incipient stage of the fire. Until recently, systems such as VESDA were stand-alone products or required multiple relays to communicate with the main fire alarm control panel (FACP). New developments have led to the intelligent high-level interface (HLI) that provides seamless connectivity between the FACP and the VESDA system, providing benefits such as single point of annunciation and control for all VEWFD detectors, reduced installation complexity, reduced equipment costs, reduced installation time, reduced wall space requirements, and the addition of full-event annunciation.

Many benefits emerge from the full-event annunciation available with the HLI. One such benefit includes understanding the nature of a fault, allowing technicians to come to the site prepared with prior knowledge of the nature of the problem, as opposed to a general fault notification from a relay. For example, a technician could determine that a sampling tube was broken due to a high airflow trouble or, conversely, could tell that a tube was blocked due to a low air-flow condition. Such a system was installed recently at a major data center in Massachusetts where significant hours of labor and 452 monitored modules of hardware were saved thanks to the HLI. All these savings were achieved while providing additional critical information to the customer.

Kevin , , 02/08/13 08:55 AM:

A discussion of fire detection and prevention is long overdue as it relates to legacy data centers. Too many modifications such as return air plenums, aisle containment and high density racks deployment have taken place without looking at the effects they have on smoke detection, clean agent concentrations, sprinkler coverage, etc. Early smoke detection (VESDA) in legacy data centers could help with early warning of an event but the effects of containment and other modifications can significantly affect traditional smoke and heat detection which often are used for activation of clean agent and pre-action systems.
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.