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Importance & Types of Data Center Specialized Testing

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Optimizing data center infrastructure and operations to maximimize uptime and extend the lifespan of equipment is not simple and is definitely not something that is a one-time or even occassional task. Just because things are functioning efficiently and effectively at installation or even after a few months or years does not diminish the need for routine testing of systems and infrastructure. With so many systems in place, it can be easy to get consumed by daily operations and neglect systems testing which can prevent major downtime and other potentially disastrous problems.

Data Center Specialized TestingThere are various types of specialized testing so, how do data centers determine what types of specialized testing they need? TechTarget explains how to weigh your testing options, get the best testing for your unique needs, and implement the learned data in a practical way to effect real and useful changes that optimize your data center, “When you develop your testing objectives, make sure they are repeatable, reproducible, stressful and meaningful. This way, you ensure that the testing outlines potential processing limits and is relevant to any applications the data center supports…A common data center test is an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) test. This test ensures that each UPS can sustain a specified load for a certain length of time. Some testing providers go beyond performing basic load tests to examine UPS logging data and use thermal imaging to look for abnormal heating that can cause premature failure. Other potential tests for your data center include network bandwidth, application performance, storage capacity, control system behavior and fault resilience…A good testing provider can anticipate things that could potentially go wrong as a result of the testing process and then structure the tests so that they can bring any failed workloads back online within the amount of time that the SLA allots.” If you are trying to determine what types of specialized tests may be best for your data center, you are in luck. Below, we take a closer look at some of the most important specialized tests you should be conducting in your data center. 


Types of Data Center Specialized Testing


Infrared Thermography


Infrared thermography is one of the most essential and important tests a data center can have professionally conducted in their facility because there are many dangerous conditions that simply cannot be seen by the human eye. These dangerous electrical system conditions including things like warm or cool connectors, conductors, or components need to be identified, isolated, and documented before they become a disastrous problem for your data center which is why routine specialized testing is so important. 

Whether your electrical systems are new or old, problems could be caused by things that may not seem direly concerning at first blush such as loose or deteriorated connections, short circuits, overloads, load imbalances, or faulty, mismatched, or improperly installed components. 

An experienced, qualified, and trustworthy data center specialized testing provider that is running a thermography test should be inspecing things including Category III transformers, relay panels, fuse disconnects, circuit breakers, electrical switchgear, fans for bearing degradation, UPS AC capacitor banks, UPS DC capacitor banks, UPS harmonic filters for capacitor degradation, and UPS batteries for thermal runaway.  Additionally, a reliable thermographer will utilize an infrared imaging system along with powerful software that is designed to provide a fast and effective means of identifying the aforementioned potential problems. Your provider should compile a comprehensive report with the imaging and recommendations for preventative and corrective repairs 


Load Bank Testing


Load Bank Testing will test generator sets and power systems utilizing resistive load banks. Resistive load bans are able to provide full KW loading to the power source which enables data centers to comprehensive evaluate engine cooling, exhaust, and fuel systems. They will not load your generator to its full nameplate KVA capacity at 0.8 Power Factor. If this is desired, reactive load banks will be necessary for testing. If you have a diesel generator, you should loadbank test it annually to ensure it is capable of operating while under full load.  Ideally, your specialized testing provider will run a 2-hour 100% resistive load bank test every year. 


UPS Acceptance Testing


Are you certain that your UPS system can perform to the manufacturer’s design specifications? If not, it is vitally important that you have a specialized testing provider perform a UPS Acceptance Test within 72 hours of equipment installation and successful start-up. Though this test can be run at any point in your UPS system’s lifespan, it is ideal to run it immediately and then again periodically on a consistent basis to ensure there isn’t unseen degradation or other potential problems that could lead to unforeseen downtime.


Facility Roll-Over Testing


Facility Roll-over testing is important for every data center and should be completed on, at a minimum, an annual basis – though some facilities may need to conduct this test on a more regular basis depending on the criticality of their operation. This test confirms that all facility critical emergency back-up systems are able to perform correctly during a real-world power outage. Critical buss loads should not lose power at any point during an outage and all non-critical loads should be able to re-establish within 7-10 seconds after the initial loss of power. Additionally, an important part of this test confirms that all equipment is capable of a successful roll-bac one utility power has been re-established. 


Arc Flash Testing


Arc-flash is one of the biggest safety concerns for any data center because it can be the most disastrous and deadly. A data center specialized testing provider should be able to customize an arc flash safety and compliance test for your unique facility. Ideally, your test will provide single-point solutions for every area of your facility that affects arc flash hazards. Your testing should include arc flash calculations, personal protective equipment (PPE) recommendations, engineering support, program development, program implementation, and training. This specialized testing is essential for ensuring worker safety as well as facility regulatory compliance. 

Arc Flash Testing should include either a single component or combination of components including Arc Flash Hazard Analysis, Arc Flash Hazard Labeling Plan, Site Review / Compliance Assessment, Protective Scheme Design Review, Single-Line Diagrams, Short Circuit and Coordination Studies, Preventive Maintenance and Program Assessment, Electrical Safety, Program Review / Development, Training and Performance Evaluation, Personal Protective Equipment Plan, Optional Annual Re-Certification, and Documentation.




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