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What is Data Center Commissioning?

5 Minute read

A data center serves as the hub of your facility, and it is imperative that you continue to monitor and improve its operation. One way to do so is through data center commissioning. In the content below, we define data center commissioning and explore the five main tasks involved in commissioning a data center.

What is Data Center Commissioning?

Data center commissioning (Cx) examines potential failure modes and modifies any inconsistencies to ensure the data center operates correctly. This strategic approach verifies that a facility’s data equipment can effectively shut down for servicing while its backup system will properly function when needed.

Additionally, commissioning improves a data center’s performance and functionality throughout the duration of its life cycle. Optimal data center functioning lowers both operation and maintenance costs, reducing energy consumption.

3 Types of Data Center Commissioning

There are three main types of commissioning services and tasks: fundamental, existing building, and continuous.

Fundamental/ New Facility Commissioning

Fundamental, or new facility Cx, establishes the baseline for later, continuous commissioning and provides a data center infrastructure management system to monitor deviations and raise alarms if something starts to go awry.

Existing Building Commissioning

Existing building Cx works like fundamental commissioning. However, this commissioning type is intended for existing facilities that were never commissioned or for buildings that underwent significant modifications.

Continuous Commissioning

Continuous commissioning can include actual Cx testing for a computer room air conditioning unit, a computer room air handler maintenance, or an uninterrupted power supply battery change.

How Do You Commission a Data Center?

Before commissioning, the data center’s project team must first outline the owner/operator’s requirements in a printed document called an Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR). The established document serves as a blueprint to guarantee that the standards outlined in the OPR are followed by everyone involved in the project.

After establishing the OPR, there are five main steps in commissioning a data center: factory witness testing, site acceptance inspection, pre-functional testing (PFT), functional performance testing, and integrated systems testing (IST).

Step 1: Factory Witness Testing

This first step takes place in the product factory. Whenever your facility purchases fundamental equipment from a supplier, the data center owner/operator should first outline the product testing protocol in its purchase specifications. As a result, the manufacturer will understand the outlined expectations prior to delivering the products. The manufacturer can test each product in advance to ensure everything aligns with the owner/operator’s requirements.

Step 2: Site Acceptance Testing

After receiving your products and equipment from the manufacturer, everything must be inspected for final approval prior to accepting the shipment. However, it is important to note that the equipment may not match the owner/operator’s specifications upon arrival, making the second stage of testing and assessing the ordered shipment crucial.

Step 3: Pre-Functional Testing (PFT)

After accepting the ordered equipment and products from the manufacturer, this next step involves assessing and inspecting the equipment through installation. Install the equipment and have both the contractors and commissioning agent verify that everything is properly installed, meeting compliance requirements listed in the OPR.

Then, start the equipment for an initial, pre-functional testing (PFT) to identify any errors in functionality. To ensure you assess everything, inspect the equipment ducts for leaks, then examine the pressure gauges, valves, fans, and any other pertinent components.

If at any time during this step someone detects any equipment faults, they must be resolved according to the OPR standards. Once fixed, you will repeat PFT until no additional errors are discovered.

Step 4: Functional Performance Testing

Now that the initial PFT is completed, you can continue assessing the functionality of the equipment through additional performance testing. At this time, run every piece of equipment for an entire cycle to examine its performance through all settings. This includes checking each control loop to ensure the control sequence operates properly.

Once completed, make any necessary adjustments to the equipment until everything is properly tuned and compliant with OPR standards.

Step 5: Integrated Systems Testing (IST)

As the final step in data center commissioning, complete the integrated systems testing (IST) by conducting one final reliability test. The equipment must pass this test in compliance with the OPR standards prior to opening the data center.

To perform this test, suddenly disconnect the equipment from its direct power source while all systems are operating, emulating a power outage. This assesses if or when the data center’s backup power systems (UPS and generators) engage with the data center. If everything is working perfectly, the transition to the backup power systems should be seamless and instant, without any lag or cooling interruptions.

Once the data center equipment passes this final step, your data center is ready to open.

Data Center Commissioning Services with FGC Construction

Is your data center in need of an assessment? At FGC Construction, our team of experts are ready to complete a needs assessment to establish the baseline for your overall data center design. Too often a data center is designed from the top down, and as a result, your IT Department might not have what they need.

In addition to completing a needs assessment, we also offer data center mechanical systems upgrades to help support what your data center truly needs. If you have any questions and would like to receive additional information or request a quote, contact us today. We look forward to improving your data center.

  • FGC Construction installed an entire megawatt of UPS and generator upgrade to our 3d Printing facility. This holds our power stable and provides unlimited runtime. Much appreciated!

    Lee M.COO - Boston, MA
  • FGC Construction delivered 2.5MW of high density data center in the middle of Silicon Valley. City planning to utility negotiations. Very impressed!

    Tim S.CFO - Silicon Valley, CA

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