Switchgear Helps Plant Get Up and Running With Internet Speed

When an Internet broadband communications company was making plans for a new 100,000-sq.-ft. data center in the Midwest, switchgear and standby-power equipment selection was a crucial part of the process. In addition to demanding design specifications, the project also had an aggressive construction schedule requiring maximum vendor responsiveness.

12/01/2002


When an Internet broadband communications company was making plans for a new 100,000-sq.-ft. data center in the Midwest, switchgear and standby-power equipment selection was a crucial part of the process. In addition to demanding design specifications, the project also had an aggressive construction schedule requiring maximum vendor responsiveness.

Planning for the center began in early 2000. It is designed to support a range of customer needs, from transmitting high-bandwidth video, voice and other data streams to providing outsourced IT services. Switchgear and standby power would be supporting the entire facility, which includes server farms, rectifiers, all mechanical systems, phone switches, all lighting loads and desktop PCs. Although planners only anticipated one or two outages a year, any disruption not easily addressable by backup power systems could cost the center's operators millions of dollars.

To meet both project requirements and schedule demands, the selected manufacturer modularized its design to provide one 800-amp bay and one 6,000-amp bay, each connected to five 1,500-kW generators. The package, which supplies the new facility with 20 MW of standby generator power and 4.5 MW of online UPS backup, arrived approximately nine months after it was ordered and was up and running with the rest of the data center within a year after construction began.

The switchgear was designed in small, multifunctional subassemblies, allowing the manufacturer to standardize components. This modular approach also provided facility engineers flexibility to mix and match subassemblies to create a site-specific design without affecting the overall schedule. Included is a high-resistance grounding scheme intended to allow continued operation during ground-fault conditions without shutting down the standby-power system. An additional feature allows facility personnel to track down a ground fault while the system is still operational.

Service has been a key issue in assuring the data center designers' satisfaction with the new switchgear, engineers say.

"At one point the general contractor was trying to lift one of these 60-foot bays to the 7th floor and the tie straps broke," says Eric Gromko, president of Morrison, Colo.-based EG Power Engineering. "Of course, this did some damage to the switchgear, but [the manufacturer] was right on it and made necessary repairs and adjustments immediately."

From Pure Power, Winter 2002





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