Demand for data center capacity is at an all-time high, and competition is fierce to open up space to the market as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, disruptions in the supply chain, coupled with a shortage of skilled construction and data center workers are affecting the speed at which data centers can be built and capacity deployed.
The Modularization of Data Center Construction
In order to circumvent some of these time-to-market challenges, data center owners are increasingly opting for modular data center construction over stick-built. Modular construction provides several advantages over the traditional approach that shorten the time to completion, reduce costs and make them easier to install. In fact, modular data centers take about 30 percent less time to complete and cost about 30 percent less than comparable stick-built facilities.
One key component of modular data centers that significantly impacts the rate at which a new data center can be built and deployed, or an existing facility can scale up capacity, is the use of electrical skids.
The Use of Electrical Skids
Electrical skids are prefabricated assemblies that integrate multiple pieces of electrical equipment into a portable enclosure or onto a base. These assemblies include all of the electrical and battery components needed to power a modular data center and provide emergency power in the event of an outage.
Skid-mounted electrical systems provide a plug-and-play option for powering data centers in remote areas or in stand-alone modules placed outside of a main data center. They also can be used to provide a power source while a facility is under construction, and they are a space-saving alternative when floor space is limited.
The Benefits of Electrical Skids in Modular Data Center Construction
Electrical skids have a lot of use cases, but what is it, specifically, that makes them an ideal choice for today’s data center owners who are in a hurry to open up space but still need to maintain quality and safety?
Here are the top five reasons to opt for electrical skids in your modular data center:
1. They are easy to integrate.
Because electrical skids are built to specification and prewired at the factory, on-site integration with the infrastructure is fast and easy. The expandable design and ease of integration provide flexibility and scalability to meet future needs.
2. They are fast to energize.
The prepackaged electrical skid was assembled and tested in a highly controlled environment, so the system is ready to be dropped in and powered up on delivery with no cable to run or connections to test when the module arrives on-site.
3. They significantly speed up deployment.
Manufacturing and preassembling electrical skids takes away much of the risk and uncertainty of stick-built construction. The components are delivered ready to deploy, which significantly cuts down the time to launch.
4. They minimize the need for skilled labor.
Although demand for new data center construction is high, the construction industry is anticipating a labor gap of 430,000 workers in 2021. Utilizing skid-mounted electrical systems alleviates the need for skilled construction labor, which allows projects to move forward quickly.
5. They increase safety.
Electrical skids are assembled, wired for power and safety tested before delivery to the site. This prepackaging of the electrical components and factory acceptance testing means there is no need for on-site workers to disassemble the housing and expose themselves to unnecessary risk.
6. THEY IMPROVE BUILD QUALITY
Electrical skids are manufactured in a controlled environment with ISO quality systems that are standard in the industry. Site construction has varying quality standards depending on the construction subcontractors.
The Role of Skids in the Future of Modular Data Centers
Electrical skids are the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to the future of modular data center construction. Manufacturers are working on ways to skid mount not only electrical systems, but also mechanical infrastructure components, such as the pumps, filtration and water systems needed for cooling.
It’s likely that we will eventually see IT modules mounted on skids, but we’re not quite there yet. However, when that time comes, modular data centers will be delivered with essentially 100 percent of the physical and technological infrastructure in place and configured, so facility managers can flip a switch and deploy almost immediately.
With the pressure on to design, build and deploy data centers as fast as possible, modular construction techniques, such as incorporating electrical skids, are in high demand. Electrical skids alleviate the need to manually run miles of cable to power the facility and additionally enable the data center to deploy faster, reducing the need for hard-to-find skilled labor and mitigating physical risk to employees, as well as risk from power outages.
Download PCX’s latest infographic, “Traditional vs. Modular Data Center Design” to learn more about how modular data centers can help owners overcome many of today’s supply chain and construction challenges.