As the Internet of Things continues to spread and cloud storage becomes increasingly vital, data centers today are having to scale at a frantic pace. Facilities with footprints measuring in the millions of square feet are a reality. Countless servers run day and night to ensure a continuous flow of data. This infrastructure keeps our virtual meetings going, our online orders accurate, and our medical records secure.
Our demand for data is growing. The expected year-over-year growth for the global data center market in 2021 is estimated at 18.3%, with 35% of that taking place in the United States alone. In fact, U.S. data centers are expected to reach $69 billion in revenue by 2024. This growth means that more infrastructure will be needed to keep up with demand, and therefore more staff to maintain that infrastructure.
Data center facilities require dedicated teams to manage their numerous servers. Their responsibilities range from performing routine equipment maintenance to decommissioning large, heavy server racks. These tasks can be physically demanding and create bodily injury risks.
Server Maintenance Challenges
Servers are at the heart of every data center. They are responsible for receiving, storing, and sending the vast amounts of data that are transmitted across the internet each day. In data centers, servers are stored in large racks that can weigh several thousand pounds. These racks must be transported from loading docks to data halls and then maintained until they are decommissioned and replaced with a fresh rack.
This reality presents several challenges for the teams that manage servers. As we discussed in our blog covering overexertion injuries, any job that involves material handling presents risks. Several challenges are present in the management of data center infrastructure at this scale:
- Manual transportation of server racks creates push and pull force injury potential as well as tipping hazards especially when unloading server racks and moving on inclines
- Server transportation requires multiple team members creating an inherently inefficient process for installing and decommissioning server racks
- Server maintenance teams must transport replacement parts and tools using suboptimal transportation equipment which causes repetitive strain injury risks and increases time needed to complete individual repairs
- Inefficiency at this level of operations hampers a data centers ability to grow and keep up with increasing consumer demands
PHS West’s Solutions
PHS West has been working with data centers for several years. During that time, we have gained unique insights into the challenges their teams face. Most importantly, we have worked in lock-step collaboration with those clients to develop a range of products built specifically to address those challenges.
Ergo-Express® Motorized Server Rack Tugs
Our motorized server rack tug has changed the way data center teams manage rack movement within their facilities. With a towing capacity 5,000 pounds, this system easily allows a single team member to move a fully loaded rack while mitigating near-miss and overexertion injuries. The tug stabilizes servers during transport which eliminates tipping hazards. Furthermore, labor hours needed for rack movement can be reduced by up to 80% meaning your team can manage large rack deliveries or decommissions swiftly.
The server rack tug is complimented by our server rack ramp which eliminates the challenges of uncrating server racks. It provides a stable, self-leveling platform with a small footprint. Once secured to a sever rack crate, the ramp will not decouple during offloading. Furthermore, the ramp can easily be maneuvered by a single operator thanks to its multi-directional casters.
Ergo-Express® Motorized Service System
The motorized data center service system is an all-in-one transportation solution for server maintenance teams. Combining a motorized service cart with a nesting dual mast lifter allows a technician to transport all the tools and equipment needed to perform server maintenance in a single trip.
This system mitigates the risk of overexertion from manually carrying supplies and taking multiple trips to complete a single task. The service cart can be configured to accommodate whatever tools and equipment a technician will need and the dual mast lifter can reach the highest parts of a server while still being able to pass through small doorways. Furthermore, the entire system has a compact footprint to minimize floorspace impact.
While maintaining data center servers presents unique challenges to data center teams, they can be mitigated with the implementation of purpose built motorized transportation products. Through collaborating with data center employees, PHS West has designed a line of products that address the risks of server maintenance and increase efficiency.
If you would like to learn more, visit our data center page or stop by our booth at AFCOM Data Center World August 16-19, 2021 in Orlando, FL. PHS West will be at booth #450.
The data center industry is Booming: News & insights. Gray. (n.d.). https://www.gray.com/insights/the-data-center-industry-is-booming/.
Data center market size to cross over $ 519 billion by 2025 – Technavio. Data Center Market Size to Cross over $ 519 Billion by 2025 – Technavio. (2021, March 23). https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/data-center-market-size-to-cross-over–519-billion-by-2025—technavio-301253991.html.
Taneja, M. (2020, December 29). Largest data centers in the world in 2020: Data centers for data science. Analytics Vidhya. https://www.analyticsvidhya.com/blog/2020/09/8-largest-data-centers-world-2020/.