Data Centres in England

I&M Controls have a long history of panel building; having pioneered the original PDU concept in the 1970s they now design, manufacture and install a wide range of switchboard and distribution systems to end users across a diverse, international customer base.

Having experienced shorter leadtimes, and rapidly increasing demand for type-tested modular projects, I&M built on their close working relationship with CUBIC to become England’s first fully certified CUBIC Assembler in 2009.

Typical of the larger project work they are now involved in was a large LV switchboard system for a new-build data-centre in southern England.

Data-centre project

The project demanded a 2500A LV switchboard, a 4500A Generator Switchboard, a 1600Amp UPS Rectifier Input Switchboard and a combined UPS Bypass/Output Switchboard rated at 1250Amps. Two 1000Amp AHU switchboards were also required.

The project scope included the busbar linking of all panels to both the mains and generator supplies.

The team developed a panel design that employed CUBIC’s versatile modular type tested system for simple, reliable

and assured performance. ACB Bearers - used to carry the system’s multiple ACBs, together with the adaptable internal compartment system, helped reduce panel production leadtimes, improve assembly reliability and simplify testing, inspection and maintenance. The main switchboard is typical of the resulting panel layouts – a neat, compact installation that provides clear, uncluttered access for maintenance and inspection.

The design of the higher output, 4500A Generator Switchboard also relied on the versatile nature of the type tested CUBIC busbar family, a factor which helped reduce engineering leadtimes too.

Motorised MCCBs were included as protection for subsequent plans for generator synchronisation. In fact future-proofing was a theme of the project, with several panels designed to accommodate later fitment of ACBs to feed additional data rooms planned for the next stage of the site’s development.

Careful panel layout permitted panel interconnection using a combination of busbars and cabling, helping to ensure swift and reliable installation and commissioning – key to reducing this costly on-site phase of the project.

I&M’s project approach and CUBIC’s modular construction system helped the I&M team manufacture and commission the installation within 8 – 10 weeks, something Andy Cartwright – I&M’s Engineering Manager - observed would not have been possible with traditional welded construction systems. He noted ”the CUBIC concept really is extremely versatile – with experience we have been able to take advantage of this to deliver several very complex installations in remarkably short order!”.

Perhaps most importantly, this project has helped build I&M’s relationship with the project’s contractor and consultant, both of whom have returned to the company with other project work based on the successful way the company met their tight cost and programme deadlines with this impressive installation.

Project management

For larger projects, I&M’s have introduced a structured Project Management system which forges close working links between key factholders from the outset of their major projects. This approach, adopted after process benchmarking with the automotive industry, has proved very successful in the early elimination of potential problems, identification of cost opportunities and, very importantly, has improved both the accuracy and leadtime of the project quotation, something the company sees as the foundation of hassle-free, reliable delivery.