WARLEY, U.K. - In the fourth quarter of 2010, it was determined that a new Main Distribution Frame (MDF) room was needed at the Warley, U.K. site. The Data Center Consolidation program team responsible for the build of the MDF room took the opportunity to design and build a cost effective and environmentally friendly solution with this new IT facility.
The result was a Ford IT facility that achieves best in class energy management performance - one of four entries shortlisted for the Data Centre Leadership Awards for the Europe and Africa region, in the Innovation in the Micro-Data Centre category.
Data centers are energy-intensive enterprises. The power and cooling infrastructure that supports IT equipment in data centers often uses two to four times more power than that consumed by the IT equipment hosted in the data center.
The Warley MDF2 Room, one of approximately 550 in the Ford IT Facility portfolio, is a good example of how Ford IT Facilities are becoming more power and cooling efficient. Data centers can range from 24-square-foot network closets to 55,000-square-foot halls in multi-hall facilities.
The MDF room serves as the entry point for all telecoms lines into a facility. The Warley-MDF2 pilot project team sought to create an MDF room with optimal power usage effectiveness (PUE). The project team was led by Mark Howell (European Data Centre Facilities Manager), and Simon Gazzard (Mechanical/Electrical Projects Supervisor for Ford Land) with support from: Mike Livings (FL Project Engineer), Dave Holbrook (FL Supplier Lead - Hamtons), Nick Tait (IT Operations Project Manager), Geoff Gabriel (Facilities Engineer), Andy Vousden, and Stephen Leigh from the IT Facilities team, as well as Steve Rainbow, Peter Pokorny, and Atul Bailoor from Telecommunications Service.
The team used a computational fluid dynamic (CFD) model of the room design to understand how the hot and cold air would flow around the room and allow them to develop the most optimal design possible. They wanted to create a room that would make a difference and their design has somewhat rewritten the rule book on how MDF rooms can potentially be built at Ford.
The new MDF2 room was built within the existing office environment and wherever possible, existing infrastructure was used. The room is connected to the standard office ventilation system to achieve cooling without the capital and annual running costs or the environmental impact of an additional cooling plant. No additional refrigerant gas systems were installed, because air is controlled by a thermostat and intake/extraction fans to provide cooling using fresh air from outside.
To stop the mixture of hot and cold air, the temperature in the MDF2 room is managed by using a “Hot Aisle” and “Cold Aisle” containment process. When the cold aisle reaches 30C (86F), cooler air is pulled into the room from either outside (fresh air) or other parts of the building.
The fans located inside the IT equipment push the cool air through the equipment and the hot air is pushed into the hot aisle, where it is contained by plastic curtains until it is extracted from the room by fans that vent to the outside of the building. The room is equipped with a temperature sensor that triggers visual and audible alarms whenever the temperature reaches 35C (95F), alerting the security team or building facilities staff to ventilate the room by opening a door or using fans to drive cooler air into the room.
Beginning in January 2010, the MDF2 pilot project instituted the following ‘Best Practice’ measures to improve energy efficiency and IT facility performance:
• Ensure ONLY equipment in use is powered up
• Ensure that fans are not installed in the top of racks (cabinets)
• Ensure energy efficient lighting is ONLY switched on when required
• Improve airflow by
o Blocking holes to stop cold/hot air mixing
o Managing airflow so that cool air generated is utilized and waste hot air is extracted.
• Raise computer room cool air temperature from 20C to 27.5C (68F to 81F)
• Employ continuous improvement techniques to adjust mechanical equipment so that optimum performance is achieved
Not only do these measures demonstrate Ford’s commitment to sustainability by reducing our Co2 and imbedded carbon footprint, they have saved an estimated $103,000 in build costs and will continue to save $23,000 per year in operating costs.
The MDF2 room remains in the “pilot” mode with performance and temperatures being carefully monitored and tracked until June. At that time, the lessons learned from this project can start to be applied to the design and build of other rooms going forward.
Simon Clark, Director, Global Service Desk and Operations, has congratulated the project team on their accomplishments saying, “This is an excellent example of a green, smart and innovative solution in Ford IT.”