When data centre superpower Next Generation Data (NGD) began the 100,000 sq ft, ground-floor expansion of its high security data centre in Newport, it relied on Stulz UK and Transtherm Cooling Industries to deliver a substantial package of temperature management and plant cooling technology.
With an ultimate capacity of more than 22,000 racks and 750,000 sq ft, NGD’s Tier 3+ data centre is the biggest in Europe and serves some of the world’s leading companies, including global telecommunications provider BT and computer manufacturer IBM.
The South Wales campus is also one of the most efficient data centres in Europe, with impressively low power usage effectiveness ratings (PUE).
Having secured additional contracts with a number of Fortune 500 companies worth £125m over the next five years, NGD has developed the capacity to respond at a rapid speed in delivering the private and shared campus space required to fulfil the exacting needs of its world-class customers.
For this particular expansion project, NGD specified 114 data centre specific GE Hybrid cooling systems from Stulz UK, plus a combination of 26 high-performance horizontal and VEE air blast coolers and pump sets from industrial cooling technology specialist, Transtherm, to manage the inside air temperature of the new campus expansion.
Phil Smith, NGD’s construction director, comments: “Responding to global market opportunities is an important part of data centre best practice standards and our 16-week build-out programme allows us to lead from the helm when it comes to meeting demand, on time.
“Completing a build of such scale and complexity within just four months requires more than 500 construction workers to be permanently on site. To keep things moving at the right pace, suppliers are required to adjust the design and build of their products in accordance to the build schedule and deliver them just in time for installation to prevent costly delays to NGD and our local contracting firms. The solution provided by Stulz and Transtherm is a great example of how data centres can work with trusted and reliable supply chain partners.”
A three-part delivery solution
As long-term suppliers to NGD, both Stulz UK and Transtherm understood the importance of just-in-time deliveries so that the new air conditioning system did not impact the build speed on site. With a usual lead time of eight weeks for its GE Hybrid technology, Stulz UK set about devising suitable production alterations that would enable it to deliver their equipment within NGD’s rapid build programme.
Mark Vojkovic, sales manager for Stulz UK, explains: “Specified for installation into the floor of the new campus expansion, we altered the manufacturing process of our GE hybrid units to enable us to deliver the technology in two halves. First to be delivered were the fan bases, which were installed onto their stands during the earlier stages of the build, just in time for the construction of the suspended floor. Later in the build programme, between weeks 10 and 12, Stulz UK delivered the upper coil sections of the air conditioning units and Transtherm delivered, installed and commissioned its equipment on the outside of the building.”
Tim Bound, director for Transtherm, adds: “Supplying a data centre superpower like NGD requires a reliable and creative supply chain solution which can not only work in tandem to deliver the most efficient product packages, but also communicate effectively to deliver products from multiple manufacturing sites ‘just-in-time’ in order to maintain their industry leading build-out times.
“It’s vital on projects of this size that manufacturing partners can see the bigger picture and adjust their own project parameters to suit.
“In this instance, NGD had 500 construction workers on site each day, working to an industry leading deadline. It was imperative that Stulz UK and Transtherm were appreciative of the onsite complexities so that we could deliver and install our plant with minimal disruption.
“This project is a real testament to how Stulz UK and Transtherm can combine their technologies, engineering know-how and logistical capacity to deliver a substantial project, within potentially restrictive time and installation constraints.”
Free air cooling
The Stulz GE system uses outdoor air for free-cooling in cooler months when the outside ambient air temperature is below 20°C, with indirect transfer via glycol water solution maintaining the vapour seal integrity of the data centre.
The indoor unit has two cooling components, a direct expansion (DX) cooling coil and a free cooling coil. In warmer months, when the external ambient temperature is above 20°C, the system operates as a water-cooled DX system and the refrigeration compressor rejects heat into the water via a plate heat exchange (PHX) condenser. The water is pumped to the Transtherm air blast cooler where it is cooled, and the heat rejected to air.
In cooler months, below 20°C external ambient temperature, the system automatically switches to free-cooling mode, where dry cooler fans are allowed to run and cool the water to approximately 5°C above ambient temperature before it is pumped through the free cooling coil.
In these cooler months dependant on water temperature and/or heatload demands, the water can be used in ‘Mixed Mode’. In this mode the water is directed through both proportionally controlled valves and enables proportional free cooling and water-cooled DX cooling to work together.
Crucially, 25% Ethylene glycol is added to water purely as an antifreeze to prevent the dry cooler from freezing when the outdoor ambient temperature is below zero.
Stulz UK has specified Transtherm’s air blast cooling technology as part of its packaged air-conditioning solution for about 10 years.
Situated around the periphery of the building and on its gantries, Transtherm’s 26 VEE air blast coolers are fitted with ERP Directive ready fans and deliver significant noise reduction, in accordance with BS EN 13487:2003.
“Transtherm’s air blast coolers and pump sets complete our data centre offering by fulfilling our requirement for outside plant which is efficient and reliable,” Vojkovic concludes.