In the first 3 parts of this blog, I’ve covered some practical considerations for planning, design, site prep, and procurement of prefab data center modules. For this last one, I’ll focus on installation at the site.
Positioning modules: The placement and orientation of a module on-site can have a big impact on the installation work involved. But more importantly it can impact the operation of the module over its lifetime – including its efficiency, reliability, accessibility, and maintainability. In our white paper on Practical Considerations for Implementing Prefabricated Data Centers, Barry & I talk about the best practices in positioning modules to optimize its performance. Some of these practices include:
- Orient the modules with its shortest face towards the sun to reduce heat gain.
- Place modules away from objects like trees, lights, low or high voltage wires that can become dislodged during weather events.
- Lay the site out in a way that vehicles are unable to collide with the modules.
- Place modules in a location that allows water to drain away from it.
Handling modules: Truck cranes are a common method of placing data center modules. There’s usually a combination of slings and spreaders attached to a crane’s hook, as this figure shows. Some things to consider in order to prevent damage: (1) minimize contact between the lifting straps and the module, (2) balance the load at each lifting point, and (3) use a crane company that has experience lifting this type of load.
Securing modules: After the prefab modules are placed in their desired location, they need to be fixed in place. This is generally done with anchor brackets which get fixed to the supporting structure with bolts. Depending on the geography, you might also need to consider seismic requirements. Vendors or integrators will generally provide a seismic engineering guide which, among other things, includes examples of reinforced concrete foundations, attachment and anchoring hardware, and their respective performance calculations.
I hope this series of blogs has helped paint a picture of some of the key considerations when deploying prefabricated data center modules. Armed with this information, these projects can proceed as planned and exhibit the expected benefit of a compressed time deployment schedule.