Manufacturers’ focus on data centers: Automation and controls

Designing efficient and effective data centers and mission critical facilities is a top priority for consulting engineers. Three manufacturers share information about their company’s products and solutions.



  • John Collins, Global Segment Director, Data Centers, Eaton Corp., Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
  • Jim Dagley, Vice President, Channel Marketing & Strategy, Johnson Controls Inc., Milwaukee, Wis. 
  • John Kovach, Global Head of Data Center Initiatives, Siemens, Buffalo Grove, Ill.

Automation and Controls

CSE: Integration of facilities is becoming more prevalent. How is your company/product meeting this need? Provide a recent project example.

Kovach: Integration is needed on many levels. We take a bottom-to-top integration approach and offer as many options as possible. One of the advantages we offer is the breadth of our portfolio and the corresponding depth of knowledge on facility best practices across the electrical and mechanical infrastructure. In addition to our own portfolio pieces, our compatibility partners for our APOGEE building automation system (BAS) include the leading names in fire, life safety, security, electrical, lighting, mechanical, and industrial systems. Customers’ options would include 700 systems/ devices, representing 200 different vendors and more than 70 different proprietary and standard protocols.

Dagley: Integration is everything right now, and we are not talking about two or three systems; our customers are expecting outcomes that require the integration of more than 20 systems, including the data center. A great example is Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where we implemented an enterprise-level solution that not only reduced infrastructure costs associated with multiple networks, but also provided increased flexibility for future upgrades and additions. Through technology contracting, we managed all related subcontractors, serving as the single point of responsibility for the design and installation of the network and technological systems across all eight facilities on campus. The technology map comprises nearly 30 integrated systems including the building management system, security and fire, as well as a variety of third-party systems including local and wireless area networks, nurse call, electronic medical records, and many others.

Collins: Eaton is meeting this trend in two ways. First, we’ve recognized that interaction between various types of power equipment and airflow management strategies for different facility sizes and applications is all part of the design process, so we are designing and testing our entire portfolio of products to work as a unified system. We have also developed our Foreseer electrical power management system (EPMS) to integrate all electrical and mechanical equipment and usage metrics to be viewed from a single screen. Foreseer can also integrate the building management system (BMS), security systems, and fire alarm systems to enhance productivity and response time. For example, a customer with a 100,000+ sq ft “lights-out” data center can set up Foreseer as the “parent” system. The BMS and other systems can exchange more than 500 points of data every second with the parent EPMS, so any situation can be addressed in minutes. Additionally, the solutions’ analytic and trending features can be used to anticipate failures before they happen.

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