Data centre power efficiency should be a top priority, says leading data centre player
Across the data centre industry, one of the largest outputs and wastes is heat – heat generated through power.
According to new data from Grand View Research, the global data centre power market value is expected to top $10.77bn by 2025.
More and more data centre providers across the world are looking for ways to reduce that heat and ultimately the power consumption and energy efficiency of the building.
But in the attempt to redefine the cooling processes and systems in an already operational data centre, a new problem has emerged.
In an exclusive interview with Construction Global Magazine, Christoph Baumgärtner Head of Business Customer Services at SAK Internet, TV, Telefon, recognises the issues of seeking energy efficiency but also the operational challenges this presents.
“All data centres around the world have a problem with trying to operate in an energy efficient way,” Baumgärtner says.
“They are already built and operational so to change the whole concept is practically impossible.”
Data centre providers must engage in the energy efficiency conversation at the very start of the process.
“When building a new data centre, we should take care as much as possible to prevent high power consumption in the beginning. Cooling efficiency and the UPS efficiency, the most power consuming parts of a DC infrastructure, should be taken care of as early as possible.” He says.
“Look at the IT equipment. In most cases there is one single server powering each application - you end up using power in extreme measures. “
Baumgärtner believes that one solutions, and one that is an emerging trend across the industry, is to create a containerised/modular system. This can be either for cooling, or other application uses, but it can realise up to 90% in savings on power usage alone.
But if you can concentrate it into one box, one containerised system, you can save 90 percent of power.
As the attention focuses even more on power and energy efficiency, some companies such as Google and Microsoft, have turned towards solar panels.
“Solar power is a nice thing and it is generated in summer, midday, and if you calculate all solar panels installed – it’s a huge amount,” says Baumgärtner.
“But during the night? Little to no power. Ok you can reduce your power needs in the hottest time during the day so when you have to cool down, the cooling process needs the most power because of heat outside, you generate some energy through the panels and it helps reduce the peaks you have in the data centre,”
“Solar power helps reduce those peaks, but you need power through the night and therefore it is not the best solution in my view,”
Read the exclusive interview with Christoph in Construction Global to discover more about how SAK Net is changing the way data centres can increase their energy efficiencies, including a local cheese facrtory.
Amazon tests new technology to improve employee safety
At the Amazon Robotics and Advanced Technology labs in Boston, and Northern Italy, team members are testing and developing new technologies in order to help to make employees’ jobs safer, these include technologies that help move carts and packages through Amazon facilities.
Recently the safety of Amazon's warehouses has drawn scrutiny. On June 1, the Washington Post's Jay Greene and Chris Alcantara published findings from an analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data showing Amazon's serious injury rates are nearly double those at other companies' facilities.
A spokesperson from Amazon said the company spent more than $1 billion last year on safety measures, and hired more than 6,200 employees to a group dedicated to workplace health and safety.
One innovation being tested by Amazon, which is in early development, is the use of motion-capture technology to assess the movement of volunteer employees in a lab setting. These employees perform tasks that are common in many Amazon facilities, such as the movement of totes, which carry products through robotic fulfillment centers.
The motion-capture software enables Amazon scientists and researchers to more accurately compare data captured in a lab environment to industry standards rather than other modelling tools traditionally used by ergonomists.
“With this data, visualisations, and employee feedback, we are looking to identify relatively simple changes that can make a big impact,” said Kevin Keck, worldwide director of Advanced Technology at Amazon. “Something as simple as changing the position of handles on totes may help lower the risk of injuries to our employees at a massive scale.”
Autonomous Robots creating new paths to safety
In order to reduce the need for employees to reach up or bend down when retrieving items, Amazon is testing a new workstation system called “Ernie.” According to the company Ernie takes totes off of a robotic shelf and uses a robotic arm to deliver it to employees, so they can remain in a more comfortable and stable position.
“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” said Keck. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees.”
“Bert” is one of Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and is being tested to autonomously navigate through facilities with Amazon-developed advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology. In the future, it is thought that an employee would be able to summon Bert to carry items across a facility.
‘Scooter’ and ‘Kermit’ are two other robots that also operate autonomously, and are both transport cars. The carts are used to carry empty totes and packages through our facilities.
In a blog post the company said: ‘By having Autonomously Guided Carts (AGCs) like Scooter and Kermit perform physical tasks, we believe we can make our facilities safer and enable our employees to focus on jobs that require their critical thinking skills. In addition, using an AGC like Scooter to pull carts through our facilities reduces the risk of strains on our employees, or even collisions. We currently plan to deploy Scooter to at least one Amazon facility this year.’
Amazon began using robotics in its facilities in 2012, and since then they have added more than 1 million jobs worldwide while simultaneously deploying 350,000 mobile drive unit robots.
“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” said Keck. “The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. By listening to them, innovating on their behalf, and driving new technologies into our facilities over the coming months and years, I’m confident we’ll make a big contribution to our goal of reducing recordable incidents by 50% by 2025.”