In planning for capacity upgrades to three Virginia-based data centers, a large technology company discovered load capacity limitations within the existing infrastructure. They contracted ENERCON to address these concerns and provide solutions that would deliver increased capacity not only for their immediate needs, but also to accommodate future growth.

Within the existing buildings, the roofing structures were already being overloaded by the existing cable trays and temporary floor-supported stanchions that had been previously installed to increase load capacity, were reaching maximum capacity.

ENERCON’s engineering team performed a cost-benefit analysis for numerous stanchion replacement and retrofit options, developing solutions that would lead to significant construction cost and schedule reduction.

“We wanted to find a flexible, scalable solution that would work in both the short-term and long-term for our client, so their structure could withstand this upgrade, and meet future growth needs. Additionally, it had to be done cost effectively and with no disruption to their operations,” said Tom McCarthy, PMP, ENERCON’s Lead Project Manager.

“This client operates one of the most secure, extensive and reliable data platforms in the country and therefore has incredibly strict infrastructure guidelines and requirements. We adhered and upheld not only the usual state building codes, but also the client’s strict guidelines for work such as column placement/stability/constructability inside of a live data center, deflection and seismic drift limitations driven by cable slack, future expansion capability, and cost/availability of the stanchion materials,” said McCarthy.

ENERCON performed non-linear seismic analyses with a specialized software, which provided highly accurate stability and drift calculations and an efficient design solution. Through this preliminary analysis, they found the existing permanent stanchions required only minor retrofits and the members used in the temporary stanchions where determined to be analytically sound.

“Negating the need to replace all of the stanchions significantly reduced construction costs and schedule,” said McCarthy. “Additionally, we shaved more off the cost and schedule by developing a unique design solution for the new stanchion installations on top of the existing raised access floor. This design also removed field obstruction issues.”

Finally, ENERCON developed a standardized design of floor-supported stanchions that the client could utilize across their other data centers.

The flexibility of this design provided our client the ability to utilize various member types and cable tray loading conditions as required for their other data centers. Initially, these standardized designs have been used at the three initial data centers to replace the overloaded roof-supported cable trays, and we expect them to be rolled out at several of our clients’ other data centers across the region.

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