Companies are now switched on to the benefits of closely controlled environments which are no longer the preserve of the IT industry, says Peter Dewdney, Eaton-Williams' group marketing manager
AS buildings become more sophisticated and applications more specialised, so the demand for close control increases. No longer confined to industrial and specialised applications such as computer rooms and data processing and switching centres, close control has really come of age and is in great demand.
Probably the largest market at present for close control, and the one that has seen the fastest growth, is the telecommunications sector. Telecomms centres and mobile phone relay stations and internet service farms can generate heat loads in excess of 3kW/m2.
These applications tend to be temperature sensitive with a wider humidity control band. Other common applications include museums and repository facilities that store artefacts, documents, and photographic records. Without special handling and storage conditions, these materials would deteriorate.
The printing and textile industries require specific humidity levels to prevent manufacturing and material-handling problems. Trackside communications and transformer rooms require cooling to prevent internal equipment from overheating. Lift motor and switchgear rooms are temperature sensitive. The food industry also has a need for close control equipment installations. EC and Defra dictate that temperature and humidity levels must be strictly maintained for the safe preparation, storage and retailing of food. In such cases, dual-function ceiling cassettes providing air conditioning temperatures as low as 10°C are ideal. Low-humidity conditions are also desirable in open chilled food cabinet display areas within supermarkets. Products such as sacrificial humidifiers can address this.
Of all the close control and critical area applications, clean rooms, laboratories, quality control and material test rooms probably require the tightest control. Temperature and humidity control is crucial in many manufacturing quality and testing environments where tolerance of ±0.5°C and ±1% RH are common.
Hospitals and clinical environments continue to depend on close-control installations. Units are used in MRI and Cat scanners.
IT's getting hotter
But it is still the IT sector that is generating the most business and where there is a need for controlling the phenomenal amounts of heat generated by equipment. Nowhere is this more evident than in the growth in large data centres for the financial sector. This is opening up new close-control markets and challenging manufacturers to address optimal performance requirements tempered with energy efficiency.
Most of the leading air conditioning manufacturers have embarked on the development of products to address this rapidly expanding market. Eaton-Williams has been working closely with the IT industry's leading companies including IBM, USystems and Intel to develop a range of products and solutions to tackle the heat problems faced in data centres.
Floor space in data and server rooms is at a premium, and driving the demand for packaging densities of computer systems. As processor capacity increases, a natural consequence is greater heat.
The advances of computing power and technologies are putting greater demands on traditional temperature control systems. Some companies are tackling the problem by reducing the amount of equipment housed in racks or reducing the number of racks used in each room. This presents data centre managers with a dilemma: how to run an efficient data centre while maximising space and overcoming heat problems.
One size does not fit all, and no single product can provide the solution. Therefore, Eaton-Williams has developed a range of products at rack and room level that the company believes can address these issues, and satisfy the growing demand for precision cooling for blade servers and critical data room equipment.
The Eaton-Williams cooling IT portfolio includes the ServerCool, server cabinets/rear door heat exchangers, cooling distribution units, CRAC units, chillers, grilles and diffusers. And all are backed up with an installation, project management, service and maintenance package.
Eaton-Williams says these products are specifically designed for high specification IT environments with maximum performance and reliability in mind. N+1 redundancy is a standard feature of the products that have been developed in partnership with global blue chip IT equipment providers.