Electricians play a key role in the data center of the future

Just about everywhere we look, we can see data centers of the future. That’s because it’s all around us – in our home offices, the retail stores we visit, the factories that make the products we consume, the warehouses that distribute them, and so forth.

In addition, edge computing has placed computer infrastructure nearly everywhere. Infrastructure (servers, storage, networking equipment, and UPSs) powers the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology that enables real-time applications such as smart traffic systems and robotics in factories and hospital operating rooms. The data these applications use should be processed near the action to avoid the latency of traveling to a cloud for processing – and back to the point of decision.

No matter the type of data center, every piece of infrastructure has one common requirement – electricity. Without power, there is no data center. Digitalization requires electrification. And wherever electrical systems are running, they need electricians who understand digital requirements and the need for sustainability.

Electrician contractors maintain the central nervous system that powers modern life but don’t get much attention. Connecting wires and installing conduits is less exciting than developing the latest and greatest mobile application. Still, that application will only run if the wires and conduits are doing their work.

electrician and data center

Electrician contractor’s evolving role

As the digital economy evolves, electricians need to recognize their fundamental role. Even batteries inside smartphones, laptops, UPSs, and electric vehicles are charged with AC power. And that means somewhere along the line, an electrician plays a role in keeping battery-charged equipment running.

But electricians need to do more than recognize their essential role in digitalization. Electrical contractors should evolve and grow so they can understand where the technology is taking them. This means having an open mind about new materials, practices, and requirements that boost efficiency, productivity, and sustainability. It’s natural to resist change – for instance, someone on the job for many years may not like having to use an iPad to complete tasks. But resisting change means getting left behind. 

Electricians need to be curious to grow in their profession and evolve with technology. They need to understand and learn the interplay of electrical and digital systems. Increasingly, electrical systems are controlled from central dashboards in smart buildings that also control other aspects of the infrastructure, such as plumbing and HVAC systems. 

Knowing where these systems are and how they interplay with electrical systems will help electricians get better at their jobs. It will also inspire better design approaches to create more efficient, resilient, and sustainable infrastructure. 

Sustainability mindset for data centers

As the electrician’s role evolves, it’s important to understand the critical role of sustainability in all things electrical. Sustainability has become an integral part of data center design and operations. That means considering the efficiency of all the systems in use and choosing renewable energy sources whenever possible. 

In some cases, large data centers might help alleviate power demand. For example, imagine a data center that uses a large generator or stores solar power in batteries. At some point, the data center may have surplus power that it can feed back to the grid for nearby buildings and residences. Such a practice could help stabilize the electrical good and provide the local communities with added value and benefit of having a data center as neighbor.

Resources for electricians

Sustainability as a concept is about more than using renewable energy sources; it’s about people. People increasingly depend on the data center of the future, which is everywhere. And as such, they depend on electricians. Electricians light the way for society. So as an electrician, embrace your contribution and continue to be open to learning and growing. With that in mind, Schneider Electric is here to help. We offer a variety of helpful learning resources along with a partner program for electricians. The partner program provides access to the latest digital tools and services to make your job easier.

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