Home » Essential Protocol for Power Equipment Maintenance in Data Centers
Data centers are able to function thanks to the electrical power equipment humming and whirring throughout them. The equipment found in a data center is essential for functionality and requires regular maintenance for optimal performance. Habitual servicing and maintenance is crucial for long-term performance and smooth data center power system operation.
An electrical preventative maintenance (EPM) program is the first and strongest defense against premature power system repair and replacement. As a result, data center managers can improve reliability for large-scale data centers and also more efficiently perform maintenance, thus reducing energy and operational costs.
In an ideal world, the initial design of a power system would account for loads serviced in the facility and ease of maintenance. However, owners are often left to deal with systems that have been value-engineered and maintenance is extremely difficult to schedule and implement. There are several initial design opportunities to make scheduling and implementing maintenance in data centers easier. These steps include applying tie breakers and locating all personnel and test equipment in the same section of the facility.
There are three parts to any EPM program: inspection, testing, and repair. Each part is vital to the overall success of service and maintenance procedures. It is also important to tailor each part of an EPM program around the operations and critical nature of the specific data center facility and the equipment therein.
Before an inspection can begin, the owner should gather up-to-date drawings and diagrams, along with applicable manufacturers’ operation and maintenance manuals for the equipment. Without these materials the inspection and resulting data could be deemed incomplete, inaccurate, or unsafe. This information helps the inspector to determine where maintenance priorities reside in the data center environment and how best to implement lock-out/tag-out before testing begins.
Inspectors should be sure that all equipment has been shut-down and verified as “dead,” all energy sources have been locked-out/tagged-out, and proper grounds have been applied before beginning. This type of inspection should be planned in detail prior to equipment shut-down to avoid wasted downtime, and only personnel who have been properly trained on the potential hazards should perform it. The areas of interest for inspection will be unique for each type of equipment in the facility, and inspectors should frequently consult equipment manufacturers’ operation and maintenance manuals for guidance as to key areas of concentration.
A thorough inspection should produce accurate and complete records. These results should lead to repairs, which should be immediately scheduled, prioritized for equipment that is either near failure or indispensable to a critical load. Without these processes, planning repairs can become extremely difficult. Also, data center managers should keep viable records of past inspections on hand to make future troubleshooting efforts more effective.