The early 2000s: The amazing boom of data center construction

Data center engineers have split into two camps. Which camp are you in?

06/13/2012


Prior to 2000, almost any data center in the world that had 10 mVA of total load would have been considered a very large data center. Mostly due to the growth of the Internet and cloud computing over the next 10 years, data center total loads grew from 10 to 20 to 40 to 60 to 80 mVA, and some data centers are being planned now that will have more than 100 mVA of total aggregate load.

 

This dramatic growth presents great challenges for design engineers to move that much infrastructure power into a data center economically, efficiently, and safely.

 

The loads have grown so much and so fast that many utilities can no longer serve these loads with their present medium-voltage distribution systems, and more than a few owners are now having to take utility service at transmission-level voltage, and construct their own primary substations. The loads are now often so large that it has become impractical in many cases to use even 15 kV class distribution systems–a distribution voltage of 15 kV is just too low, in many cases. Feeder cable sizing and breaker ampacity ratings often become too large at 15 kV, and short-circuit duties can become excessive for downstream equipment. Sometimes, the only good reason to continue to “force” distribution into an ever-shrinking 15 kV “box” is to avoid another transformation for diesel generators, so that utility-generator transfer operations can be made directly at the 15 kV level.

 

As this trend has developed, it appears to me that the consulting engineering community has more or less split into two camps:

  • One camp prefers to stay with highly reliable liquid utility transformations, located outdoors, and then run large underground duct banks into secondary switchgear located inside the building.
  • The other camp remembered the lessons learned from the “World War II loadcenter” concept, and moved their transformations inside the building, physically closer to the actual loads.

 

 

Here’s an at-a-glance economic comparison between the two different approaches: 

 

Comparison of copper used with  

 

Figure #3 – Comparison of Approaches

 

The example shown is not very typical, because in the 480 V example, most engineers would do all possible to place the transformers as close as possible to the secondary switchgear, in order to minimize the lengths of the 480 V conductors. But, the example is nonetheless real-life, and I’ve seen this very arrangement in a few projects.



No comments
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 Leaders Under 40 program features outstanding young people who are making a difference in manufacturing. View the 2013 Leaders here.
The new control room: It's got all the bells and whistles - and alarms, too; Remote maintenance; Specifying VFDs
2014 forecast issue: To serve and to manufacture - Veterans will bring skill and discipline to the plant floor if we can find a way to get them there.
2013 Top Plant: Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Why manufacturers need to see energy in a different light: Current approaches to energy management yield quick savings, but leave plant managers searching for ways of improving on those early gains.
Electric motor power measurement and analysis: Understand the basics to drive greater efficiency; Selecting the right control chart; Linear position sensors gain acceptance
Protecting standby generators for mission critical facilities; Selecting energy-efficient transformers; Integrating power monitoring systems; Mitigating harmonics in electrical systems

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

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.