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Achieving Sustainable Data Centers

With over 3 million Data Centers in the USA and many more worldwide, the question arises of how we can make Data Centers more energy efficient and sustainable. In this interview, Marina Lee, Data Center Specialist at Stӓubli Electrical Connectors (formerly Multi-Contact) talks to AZoM about the different solutions.

Please tell us a bit about Stӓubli Electrical Connectors and the work you do?

Stӓubli Electrical Connectors has been a leading manufacturer of electrical contacts and connector solutions for 55 years.  We were formerly known as Multi-Contact and just recently changed our name to adopt the brand appearance of the Stӓubli Group as we have been part of the group for 15 years now.  We serve various markets with our connectors such as the photovoltaic, energy, robotics, life sciences and IT markets, just to name a few.

In addition to the wide range of standard connectors we offer, our engineering team in Windsor, CA can also help with solutions based on a customer’s specific requirements. Custom solutions can be delivered fully tested and assembled to the customer.

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With 3 million Data Centers in the USA, what role do they play in our current market? Why do we need Data Centers?

You could say that a data center is the brain of an organization. They house the IT equipment such as servers, databases and storage systems that is needed to manage, store and distribute information. Most of us never think of data centers in our daily lives until we cannot access our social networks or search the internet anymore. For a company or organization however, the reliability and safety of their data centers is of high importance.

There are backup and security systems in place to protect data and make it available to their users.

Is there a need for more Data Centers to meet the demands and resources of the 21st Century?

I just recently read that the number of data centers is actually expected to fall in the coming years, the total data center space however is thought to increase to almost 2 billion square feet in 2018.

The reason is a trend towards bigger data centers. Smaller corporate data centers may shift their IT needs to large service providers. In addition, companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google have needs for more data center space.

As data centers grow they consume more and more energy and the call for more energy efficiency and sustainability gets louder.

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How can Stӓubli Electrical Connectors help to make Data Centers more sustainable? How do you define sustainability?

Sustainability means less consumption of natural resources and less carbon footprint. Data centers need to become greener. Google for example vowed to power all its data centers with wind and solar power starting this year.

Our MC4 connectors are used to connect PV panels and inverters and we are the leading manufacturer in this field. We also design and manufacture junction boxes for crystalline PV panels, so we are well equipped to help with any PV connection needs.

When using renewable energy resources to power your data center you also have to take into account that they are not available at all times. For example, the sun only shines during the day and some days may be cloudy with less generated power.

The power consumption of a data center on the other hand is fairly steady. Storing the unused solar energy in battery banks, fuel cells, etc. during the day is one way to ensure availability. Here our connectors can be used to interconnect the photovoltaic modules or to quickly connect and disconnect batteries for example.

You were also talking about more energy efficiency? How can Stӓubli Electrical Connectors help here?

A more energy efficient data center is one that consumes less electricity. The core technology of all of our connectors is the MULTILAM band. MULTILAM bands are contact bands with a large number of contact points that connect the female and male connector parts and allow power to flow with minimal losses due to a very low contact resistance.

The low contact resistance also allows for high current capacities and minimizes heat generation. The heat generated by poor connections would lead to higher cooling needs and electricity used to power cooling systems.

If you look at is this way, the energy savings are compounded. On the one hand less power is lost in the connection and on the other less heat generation means money saved because the cooling needs are smaller.

Reliability is also a very important factor. A common goal for availability of a Data Center is 99.999%. How can Stӓubli’s electrical connectors help reliability? Are there any other features that qualify them for use in Data Centers?

Some of our connectors are made for up to 1 million mating cycles which means that the connector can be plugged and unplugged for up to 1 million times. Even though that may not be necessary for most data center applications, it shows the high quality and reliability of our products. Our connectors are designed and manufactured to meet or exceed the relevant IEC and UL standards and undergo regular quality testing and other specific tests.

Another factor in data centers is safety. Our connectors are touch safe and have safety features such as locking mechanisms as well as color and mechanical coding options.

They are designed with easy handling in mind and make it possible to connect and disconnect equipment quickly and easily in case of failure or maintenance.

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What kind of connectors does Stӓubli Electrical Connectors offer and where in a Data Centers can they be used?

We offer a variety of standard products such as insulated and non-insulated single pole power connectors. The non-insulated connectors are used as power contacts installed in power equipment such as UPSs (uninterruptible power supplies).

Our Powerline 3 insulated single pole power connectors and leads distribute power between equipment. They are touch proof and come with locking and coding features and in different colors. We also offer bus bar connectors which are used in rack/panel applications to connect to the distribution bus bar and also to connect to busways in the server room.

These GSR fork connectors are available for metric and inch size bus bars, insulated and non-insulated, and can be adjusted in size and shape to the customer’s needs.

Another product I would like to mention is our modular CombiTac system. It gives the option to integrate various connections into a single housing, including signal and power contacts and also fluid couplings. They can be used for connection of cooling circuits within server racks for example.

Where can our readers go to find out more?

The readers are welcome to visit our website, http://ec.staubli.com. We also have a designated website for our modular CombiTac connector system, http://www.combitac.com/ . Our team in Windsor, CA would be happy to help with any questions or specific requests and you can email us at [email protected] or call (707) 838-0530. We look forward to hearing from you.

About Marina Lee

Marina is Specialist for the Life Science and Data Center Markets at Stӓubli Electrical Connectors.  She has more than seven years of experience in the connector industry including positions at Stӓubli Electrical Connectors (former Multi-Contact) and Phoenix Contact.

Before that she worked for Texas Instruments in Business Development.  Marina holds a B.S. in Engineering and Business Administration and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Renewable Energy Engineering from universities in Germany where she grew up.  She now lives with her family in Southern California.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

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