STULZ worldwide

How cooling technology is driving a more sustainable future for data centres

Queensland data centre reduces its energy bills

The data centre sector has positively boomed over the past year, as a connection to digital is more ingrained in our everyday life than ever before. As a result of this growth, organisations are placing more critical infrastructure in data centres to compute and store information.  To cope with demand these data centres are seeing an increasing requirement for more power – and as server densities continue to rise, cooling systems are under increased pressure to keep IT equipment and servers cool enough for them to operate efficiently. 

As the growth of data continues because of our always-on lives, it raises the questions how do facilities establish more sustainable, efficient, consistent, and cost-effective data centre operations?

One such data centre has been tackling this issue head on – Polaris in Queensland – with the help of the STULZ Oceania team.

The Challenge

Polaris, owned and operated by the Springfield City Group, is one of Australia’s leading and most advanced purpose-built Tier 3+ data centres, located 35km from Brisbane CBD. The 14,000 square-metre facility split over 5 levels has been in operation since 2009 and is trusted to store information from a huge variety of domestic and international clients. The Polaris Data Centre is connected to the Springfield-Eight Mile Plains-Brisbane-Ipswich-Springfield Dark-Fibre Network, a geographically diverse, 720-core fibre ring network which underpins the business, education, and health precincts as well as the local community.  

The facility holds 60 STULZ units in N+2 configuration, which have been in operation for the entirety of the data centre’s life - 12 years. With the increased capacity requirements and a drive to deliver the most energy and cost efficient solution for clients Polaris has continuously sort to refine its operating model.

Peter Blunt, Chief Commercial Officer at Polaris has seen the benefits of working with Stulz to refine the control logics of the Stulz CRAH units. He says: “We know customers are always seeking improvements  that deliver a more cost-effective, energy efficient data centre, maximising the gains on existing infrastructure is logical way to achieve this. Adopting the latest control logic into our existing system has delivered significant gains in efficiency and delivered a quieter, more comfortable working environment for clients, whilst still achieving our strict SLAs.

The Solution

STULZ’s main goal for Polaris’ data centre site was to provide environmental monitoring then use the data to optimise the space. By doing this, STULZ could help Polaris achieve its end goal, which was to lower its operating costs while exceeding power and cooling standards for its customers.

STULZ implemented its state-of-the art automated monitoring and optimisation system to manage and control the temperatures - EMOS. The process involved deploying and distributing non-intrusive, sophisticated wireless sensors to comprehensively record in real time the data centre’s key environmental conditions.

The granular deployment of wireless sensors measure the CRAH (computer room air handler) return and supply air temperature and humidity, the rack intake and exhaust temperature and humidity, the raised floor differential pressure as well as the conditions at the BMS SLA (Service Level Agreement) sensors. Once the operational baseline had been identified, STULZ engineers then optimised the data centre using various airflow management techniques.

John Jakovcevic, Managing Director at STULZ Oceania, says: “After conducting a careful and thoughtful assessment of the data centre, our STULZ technicians realised there were a number of opportunities to optimise the cooling infrastructure of the facility.

“Firstly, we improved the balancing of the CRAH units, then we optimised the air flow through the raised floor grilles. Lastly, we enhanced the CRAC units operating configuration for the specific characteristics of the individual Data Centre. Our aim throughout the optimisation process was to ensure that the changes implemented aligned the CRAH control strategy with the ASHRAE temperature and humidity ranges.”

The Results

After the STULZ EMOS system was implemented the CRAHs were running lower fan speeds and significantly less humidification, consuming around 29% less energy than immediately preceding the changes, with the same IT load, within client SLA parameters.

In addition to the energy savings, there has been an improvement in the general control of CRAH improving the reliability of the temperatures distributed to the front of the rack and increasing the lifecycle of CRAH consumable items. The front of the rack environment is now reporting an average of 23.3°C and 53% RH across the data floor - in line with the ASHRAE TC9.9 2015 standards (cooling recommended range: 18°C to 27°C and humidity recommended range 40% to 60% RH).

Mr Blunt says: “Managing a data centre successfully so that it delivers an improved Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) year after year is becoming increasingly challenging. STULZ’s monitoring system is one of the best in the industry and has enabled the visibility and control us to deliver significant improvements in an already refined facility. In fact, the Polaris team saw an immediate change in the CRAH energy consumption, around 29%the very same day the alterations were made!”

“We’re incredibly pleased with the data centre’s cooling infrastructure management system. Not only has it provided Polaris with excellent temperature and humidity control, it has delivered energy savings whilst maintaining our strict SLAs and  standards for our customers.”