The Commissioning process for a data center or other Mission Critical Infrastructure (MCI) site ensures that the critical electrical, mechanical, life safety, communication and support systems perform interactively exactly as intended. Commissioning, as recommended by ANSI, NETA, ASHRAE, DOE, and several other guide organizations, is an established, systematic methodology that begins at the design phase and extends through procurement, construction/installation and final handoff. A critical component of the process is full, comprehensive documentation of all commissioning tests & events, including benchmarking as may apply. Architectural & Engineering (A&E) firms today routinely integrate third party commissioning services into the pre-construction process of MCI facilities as a means of assuring that performance is as designed, and to the owners’ requirements for highest availability & reliability assurance.
Mission Critical Infrastructure (MCI) commissioning is, by definition, perhaps the most critical field of commissioning for any building. For MCI commissioning to be successful in demanding Tier 3 & 4 projects, it must be comprehensively addressed and embodied at the very beginning of the planning, design, and construction process. Successful commissioning synchronizes the owner’s requirements, design intent as well as the installation process, and tremendously increases quality assurance / reduces change orders. It also improves compliance to governing standards and validates warranties to ensure long-term performance of the critical infrastructure.
Electrical System Commissioning
By far the most important performance assurance & commissioning occurs on the electrical infrastructure. A Data Center can survive most mechanical failures or issues for minutes, even hours, perhaps days. But just a single sub-second failure of the critical electrical infrastructure brings the entire enterprise to its knees, resulting in total load crash. An entire year’s worth of LEED mechanical savings can be lost in a one second electrical event. It is for this reason that MC West’s primary focus is on critical electrical infrastructure commissioning.
The MCI Commissioning Process
MC West’s commissioning typically tests at each level of MCI project completion:
· Factory testing
· Critical component/sub-system testing
· Systems testing & balancing
· Integrated facilities testing
Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT)
Many specification short-falls & major system component load test failures, particularly in critical sub-systems involving sub-second power transfers in UPS, CPS & ASTS systems, are far easier and more reliable to correct at the factory than the job site. MC West has extensive and very unique experience from both an owner’s representative and a manufacturer’s representative with large scale FAT’s on both static and rotary systems. This gives the owner and the engineer an edge in seeing and avoiding any “smoke & mirrors” during factory visits.
Critical Component Testing
These tests may include circuit breaker, transformer and conductor insulation testing, critical valve or sensor tests, individual UPS battery cell testing, validation of meters and/or current transformers, instrumentation, communications interfaces, protective devices, and/or other documented testing as may be required.
During the system test phase, MCW may test every system within the MCI to insure correct performance. This typically includes dynamically load testing the super-critical UPS/CPS/ASTS systems, battery or flywheel DC reserve, as well as the diesel-electric generation system, chiller/CRAC systems, monitor/mgt systems, etc. Transient performance, load sharing, transfer scenarios, reserve times, diesel fuel quality assurance, seismic withstand, temperature impact issues, and a hundred other parameters are checked & documented.
Integrated Facilities Testing
Finally, an integrated test of the entire data center, or other MCI site, is conducted to verify that all of the systems work together, and to evaluate how all critical building infrastructure and communications will function in its final configuration. Here, we typically cable resistive and/or reactive load banks directly at the final load (server racks, enterprise processing, etc) and test all back-up gear to full load or even overload. The goal here is to find any potential problem before it occurs on live data center time. This process also creates heat in the raised floor environment testing the CRAC (Computer Room Air Conditioning) at or near its rated capacity. At this point, worst case “what if” scenarios are simulated insuring successful seamless transition to and from primary to secondary power.