Learn how a good BMS or EPMS system, paired with the right integrator, can make a big difference in the ways a company can combat issues such as energy consumption and staffing shortages.
Blog post by Executive Vice President and General Manager, Mission Critical
Data Centers are continuously adapting to growing demand and industry challenges. This article from the Uptime Institute lists a number of those challenges, and we are continuing to see them play out with the pandemic in the background.
As an integrator providing automation and IT services for data centers and the mission critical industry, we want to elaborate on two of those trends: energy usage and staffing shortages, and show how a good BMS or EPMS system and the right integrator can make a big difference in how a company can combat these issues and remain efficient from both productivity and cost perspectives.
In the Uptime Institute article, author Kevin Heslin details the effects of increased and HD streaming on data centers:
“Media streaming, which represents the biggest portion of global traffic and which is increasing steadily, has become the energy guzzler of the internet. According to our analysis, streaming a 2.5-hour high definition (HD) movie consumes 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy. But for 4K (Ultra HD) streaming—expected to become mainstream in 2020—energy consumption will be closer to 3 kWh. Expected increases in demand will drive greater cloud, colocation and data center development, and energy consumption. The rollout of 5G, with its increased bandwidth requirements, will substantially accelerate the data use and energy use trends.”
The pandemic has really amplified just how dependent we are on the internet backbone structure provided by data centers. Despite the increase in demand, they’ve done a fantastic job. We haven’t had significant outages or reduced speeds. The infrastructure is holding up well to a stress test that nobody could’ve seen coming.
That said, as usage goes up and up, the more complex data centers become. They’re larger (hundreds of thousands of square feet or larger). There’s much more scale. There’s a lot more equipment to go south. The same things that got data centers to where they are now aren’t going to keep them going from here on out. You need better equipment to allow you to control the energy consumption and make sure that it’s readily available.
Our clients are always looking at managing their energy consumption. It’s directly related to the cost of running the asset. And there’s no question that there’s more focus on capital investments, balancing using updated technology against using the standard technology that has higher energy consumption.
An updated BMS system can make a difference. For example, we have coupled a BMS/EPMS system with an advanced model predictive control application for a client, and that resulted in significant energy savings. By implementing some unique operational algorithms that enable the facility to run in its energy sweet spot, the client realized a 15% savings in consumption.
As integrators, we help many clients in many industries navigate the challenge of brain drain and staffing shortages. We help by improving the way in which the OT hardware – the facility itself – creates intelligence. By giving data centers the ability to visualize the problems they’re having, they’re able to flag and issue before it becomes a problem. This also allows them to address issues more efficiently with less staff.
When a facility does experience electrical or mechanical equipment failures, we see challenging environmental conditions that occur. Extreme cold, for example, makes these facilities behave very differently than their design criteria in some cases. An updated and well-designed BMS or EPMS system helps dramatically improve the response time to those failures, even preventing them from happening in the first place.
This is where working with a knowledgeable integrator can make all the difference. A lot of times a client will choose a lesser system or lesser integration, thinking they’re saving on costs. This is a mistake. Our experience as integrators in this industry allows us to design out single points of failure or improve the way that operators interface with the system so that they can solve the problem more quickly. This is a great advantage to an industry dealing with staffing shortages.
With the pandemic, one of the challenges is that you can’t get people from one facility to another. In many cases, we’ve done maintenance, spot assistance or support virtually, which we never used to do. Having a good, robust, BMS or EPMS system makes that possible. Often, we utilize industrially proven, high-availability, highly scalable products from technology partners like Rockwell and Schneider.
The pandemic has put many things under the microscope in 2020 in our industry and in manufacturing in general. This is an opportunity to learn from our vulnerabilities and make sure we’re prepared to weather the storm. How can your facility benefit from an upgrade? If you’re not thinking about that now, you should be.
Is your data center in need of an upgrade?