Data processing centres (DPCs) represent an ever-growing industry in both importance and scale, but they also face increasing challenges. Downtimes and service interruptions are a concern for datacenter owners and managers. Smart technologies in grounding and lightning protection systems are high-impact tools for infrastructure security, data and equipment integrity and service continuity.
In July 2023, the Uptime Institute Global Data Center Survey 2023 summary was published for the 13th year. These surveys analyse the state of the data centre industry in terms of resilience, sustainability, efficiency, regulations, workforce, cloud and the use of innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence.
The thirteenth Uptime Institute Global Data Center Survey was conducted online from February to April 2023. It is the most comprehensive study to date, this time including responses from 850 datacenter owners and managers.
The report highlights that current challenges of concern include increasingly restrictive regulations and the pressure to reduce energy consumption. Concerning outages, more than half of the respondents (55%) report having experienced a data centre outage in the last 3 years. Therefore, the trend of gradual improvement continues (78% of respondents in 2020, 69% in 2021 and 60% in 2022).
However, two aspects should be kept in mind. On the one hand, they have changed the statistical methodology to increase accuracy and, on the other hand, there is a lot of uncertainty in the impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during the last period. In any case, although datacenters have increased resilience through greater redundancy, outages remain a problem for the industry.
In this article, we explain how smart technologies applied to grounding systems and lightning protection can ensure datacenter service continuity.
Smart Earthing: intelligent solutions for data centre grounding systems
At Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A. we are experts in earthing systems. Therefore, we know that earthing not only has a safety function for people and electrical and electronic equipment. Additionally, it makes it possible to know the state and operation of the entire electrical installation and the connected elements. On the other hand, after its implementation, the system remains underground, which makes its subsequent adaptation very complex.
Consequently, an optimal design is crucial for data centres in the pipeline. Within our range of Smart Earthing products and services, we offer the professional service Earthing system projects 4.0 for engineering and architectural firms. Here we combine our technical team of experts with the most advanced IT tools to tackle any earthing project.
Earthing system 4.0 projects begin with a prior geo-electrical study to determine the stratification and resistivity of the ground. This is a key aspect because it allows us to choose the most appropriate grounding system. For this reason, we have a professional geoelectric study service with our method based on the simplification of measurements, IoT communications and the application of artificial intelligence. Expert treatment and processing of measurements with heuristic algorithms provide the most reliable results with the most optimised procedure possible.
On the other hand, the efficiency of the operation of the earthing system depends on the materials used, as they must conduct the current to earth when an incident occurs. For this reason, at Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A. we have anti-theft conductors and specific electrodes to be used according to the particularities of the ground. These include corrosion-resistant electrodes for aggressive soils, special electrodes and/or perimeter conductive rings for highly resistive soils.
Another important aspect is the durability of the connections between conductors. Apliweld® Secure+ exothermic (or aluminothermic) welding is the most efficient and safest on the market, with equal or higher connection conductivity. Apliweld® Secure+ is the only tablet welding and remote ignition welding and maintains excellent conditions throughout the lifetime of the installation.
Finally, the Earthing 4.0 systems include intelligent technology for earthing monitoring with the Smart Earthing Monitoring System. This is the intelligent system for distributed processing and monitoring of earthing, which can also be implemented in data centres already in operation.
Smart Earthing Monitoring System: digital transformation in earthing systems
When a power failure occurs in a datacenter (servers, telecommunications or data storage), it is important to analyse the power system (including the earthing system) to discover the cause of the failure. Only continuous monitoring and expert analysis are capable of a reliable assessment of the state of the earthing system, as only real-time information can detect the source of the relevant electrical faults.
Smart Earthing Monitoring System realises centralised monitoring employing intelligent sensors distributed at selected control points. The system logistically simplifies verification processes and enables predictive maintenance based on objective data. The optimisation of corrective and preventive maintenance leads to cost savings.
Smart Earthing Monitoring System provides real-time alerts for corrective maintenance before major damage occurs, preventing safety-critical situations. This reduces the risk of step and touch voltages with the danger of electric shock to people. Monitoring also detects earth disconnections as they occur, providing alerts for theft, degradation, breakdown or accidental breakage.
In addition, the earth connection allows observation of the dynamics attributable to the anomalous operation of the installation and also reflects the operation of the connected equipment. These could be affected by transients, leakage currents, spurious currents, harmonics, etc. The continuous and unattended verification of Smart Earthing Monitoring System allows us to know the state of the assets in real-time, detecting their failures early.
Therefore, Smart Earthing Monitoring System ensures operational excellence, risk minimisation and financial efficiency of data centre grounding systems.
Lightning protection of datacenters with Smart Lightning solutions
Lightning storms are a risk for data centres, which require lightning and surge protection to prevent potential data loss and degradation of electrical and electronic equipment. Lightning protection prevents unplanned downtime, outages and service interruptions with high economic impact.
That’s why we have developed a complete Smart Lightning range to meet the needs of the industry. Intelligent design with the lightning and surge protection project service and 4.0 monitoring of the protection systems reduce repair and maintenance costs.
This range includes the intelligent ATSTORM® thunderstorm early warning system, the lightning rod with IoT technology for self-diagnosis DAT CONTROLER® REMOTE and the intelligent SMART LIGHTNING LOGGER lightning logger.
In addition to the Smart Lightning range, transient and permanent overvoltage protection as well as conventional protection, accessories, conductors and earthing materials for lightning protection systems are available, along with installation, servicing and maintenance services.
Data centres are increasingly complex critical infrastructures. Therefore, ensuring a consistent and high level of security is a constant challenge for facility owners and managers. Smart Earthing and Smart Lightning solutions are valuable tools to ensure ROIs.
For more information on how our smart solutions contribute to the security and economic efficiency of data centres, please contact us at the following link.