TierPoint’s data center in Lenexa, Kansas, comprises 56,000 square feet, with 10,000 square feet of production floor space in operation and an additional 10,000 square feet that can be built out for future clients. The Lenexa data center supports a wide range of customers including major financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies and small businesses.
“Our clients expect us to maintain 100 percent uptime, and if we don’t maintain that then we’re not providing the best solutions for them,” said Andrew Watkins, manager of TierPoint’s Lenexa data center. “If we lose power, it could have adverse consequences to their business, not to mention cause potential harm to our reputation.”
The front end of TierPoint’s standby power system in Lenexa is anchored by two Cat® 3516C diesel generator sets that supply a combined 2.5 MW of power to the data center in an N+1 configuration.
Electrical power is controlled via two identical switchgear rooms that ensure redundancy should one of the two sides experience a failure.
For enterprises that require power that’s always on and never fails, paralleling switchgear is a key component that needs to be maintained so that it can transfer emergency loads from a standby generator at a moment’s notice. But with an expected life cycle of around 15 to 20 years, budget constraints can lead facility managers to postpone modernization to the last possible minute, thereby increasing the risk of electrical failures such as unplanned outages that lead to costly downtime — which, in the case of a data center, can have a major financial impact and damage the company’s reputation.
While generator sets receive the most scrutiny when it comes to maintaining and testing a standby power system, switchgear typically receives minimal attention until something fails or a component becomes obsolete.
“Frequently, the switchgear and automatic transfer switches are forgotten, so our team goes out and conducts thorough site evaluations and preventive maintenance,” noted Jeff Miller, EPG service manager for Cat dealer Foley Power Solutions in Kansas City.
Armed with that information, the Cat dealer confers with engineers at the Cat Switchgear facility in Alpharetta, Georgia, to determine if there are any obsolete or end-of-life parts. If that’s the case, Cat Switchgear will make recommendations, at which point a representative from Foley Power Solutions will go back to the client and present options for upgrading their system.
Likely candidates for switchgear upgrades include hospitals, data centers, pharmaceutical plants and manufacturing facilities. “Anyone that has infrastructure or mission critical operations where the power cannot go down should evaluate their switchgear for a possible upgrade,” said Miller.
Working in tandem with Foley Power Solutions, engineers from Caterpillar Switchgear evaluated the TierPoint system in early 2018.
“We evaluated all the components within the gear, and then we took that information back to the factory and had the engineers take a look at what needed to be replaced or upgraded, what could stay and then we came up with a solution for TierPoint,” said Miller.
The audit determined that the switchgear had some components that were nearing obsolescence. Based on these recommendations, the Lenexa data center opted for an upgrade to 4,000 amp, 480V low voltage switchgear. In advance of the installation, Watkins visited the Cat Switchgear facility as part of a factory witness test. “I was able to sit down for two days and try to break down what they were recommending we upgrade,” Watkins said.
“I got to take a tour of the facility and actually see how they build their switchgear. So not only did I get to go out and test run my upgrade, but I got to see it actually being built out.” Miller said that the ability to partner with TierPoint and Cat Switchgear in the planning of the project well in advance of the actual site upgrade is what allowed the project to flow seamlessly at implementation time. The modernization was conducted by two technicians from Cat Switchgear along with Cliff Putoff, a master technician from Foley Power Solutions.
“We’ve been doing a lot of upgrades with Cat Switchgear, and they’re scripted,” explained Putoff. “They start on one day and end the next day or in the following days depending on the size of the upgrade, and no there are no hiccups. By the time the new equipment arrives, all the software is loaded and configured. The upgrades are plug and play — there’s no trying to figure out what’s going to happen later. It all comes off on time.”
Modernization of TierPoint’s switchgear was completed ahead of schedule. During the upgrade, representatives from Foley and Cat Switchgear provided TierPoint with regular updates on the progress of the project. “We were having to provide updates all the time not only to our customers but to our upper management, and that made it essential to keep us in the loop and complete the project on time,” said Watkins. “It was great — it worked out well.”
One of the advantages of modernization includes new PLC processors, which enables the standby power system to process faster, which is key for a data center. The upgrade also includes enhanced graphics, timers and color-coded alarms. Updated HMI software and new graphics were integrated into the system to provide TierPoint with better recognition of alarms and a clearer understanding of how to operate the system.
“Previously, we had no idea when our standby power was going to shut off, or how long it had been running,” stated Watkins. “That’s huge when it comes to our business. I want to know how long we’ve been running on that generator and when we’re going to be transferring back — how many minutes I have remaining before it goes back on utility power — so having the main HMI screen countdown timer is critical.”
Watkins added that the enhanced graphics that came with the switchgear upgrade provide a lot more functionality to be able to utilize their equipment to see what’s going on in real time. Once the upgrade was completed, a functional test was conducted. Cat Switchgear personnel provided a full day of instruction to the TierPoint team, training them on how to utilize the graphics, as well as an operational review of how the switchgear works.
“We ran through a complete scenario from our viewpoint, and then from the customer’s standpoint also — any test that could be run, we ran it,” said Putoff. “We verified that everything worked and integrated well with itself. And then the customer had us go through and do a functional test, making sure all the points came in from the generator, and that everything showed up on the screen.” The Cat dealer provides ongoing support and maintenance of TierPoint’s standby power system.
“Foley has been a great partner with TierPoint,” Watkins said. “And going through the Cat Switchgear upgrade has given us an added level of confidence, as we were a direct recipient of first-rate factory support.”
The 40th American Royal World Series of Barbecue, the world’s largest barbecue, was recently held at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Missouri. The two-day festival included live music, local food, a car show, kid’s activities, a vendor fair and a barbecue competition with 340 teams competing.
Foley Equipment provides, sets up and maintains the portable power and electric distribution necessary to keep the American Royal World Series of Barbecue event running.
“We supply all the generator sets and temporary distribution gear to all of the contestants at the barbecue event,” said Gary Miller, Rental & Used Power Sales Manager for Foley Power Solutions. “All of the teams have their cooking utensils and all of their accessories, and they need electricity so we provide generators and all the distribution gear so people can feel like they’re at home and can plug right in and run whatever kitchen tools they need to run.”
Foley Equipment provided 26-27 Caterpillar generators, a couple spare generators, four 30-ton Caterpillar air conditioners and around 80,000 feet of cable to this year’s American Royal World Series of Barbecue, which is the largest entertainment event that the company provides power to.
“We have been powering this event since the early 90s,” Miller said. “It’s been a very long term mutual benefit for both of us. We even make suggestions on their layout, because we know what gear we have and how we’re going to power it, so we work together.”
When getting prepared to power a large event like the American Royal World Series of Barbecue, Foley Equipment checks the machines and changes the fuel filters to make sure that everything is clean and ready before the event begins. The equipment was delivered on the Monday morning before the event, and the power distribution team set up and tested the equipment.
“My lead salesman for this event, Jeremy Rock, gets here on Monday morning and starts labeling every generator and every distro box on where it has to be on this property,” Miller said. “That way when the volunteer team comes to help set up the distro gear, they know exactly where to take it to.”
“You can’t host a successful BBQ without a reliable electrical team,” said Brady Madsen, Director of Operations for the American Royal Association. “Jeremy Rock and the guys at Foley are there for us from the time we begin laying out the electrical map through the end of the event. This is the world’s largest barbecue, and we are able to execute the event successfully because of the support of partners like Foley.”
Some of the specific things that Foley Equipment powered for the event include video boards for concerts, air conditioning for a large garage being used as a judging station and barbecue contestant tents.
For the large stage in the center of the Winner’s Circle, Foley Equipment powered the stage and contestant area, as well as the private air-conditioned restroom, using about 350 amps of power.
“For another tent, we’ll provide them with a 45kw generator with power distribution,” Miller said. “We’re giving them about 150 amps of power to supply everything that’s going on in their tent. There will be freezers, refrigerators, their serving platform and all the serving warmer tools they need to feed their guests. Of course, they’ll have all kinds of electronics and lighting and they’ll have some type of band playing. It’s amazing because the tent is probably 60x100 [feet], and they’ll have probably a couple hundred guests. And that’s just one of the parties that’s going on out here.”
For safety reasons, Foley Equipment made sure to keep cables out of the way of event attendees by using cable ramps. According to Miller, an 80,000- pound semi could go over the cable ramps, and it would not affect the cables inside.
“If we have to run cables across a walkway, we will lay down our cable ramps and put the cables inside,” Miller said. “That way, there’s no chance of someone catching a cable and falling and hurting themselves.”
On the Monday after the event ended, Foley Equipment collected the generators and other equipment to move on to the next job.
“I’ll have a team of probably six people out here, and we will be gathering up our cables and generators and getting them shipped back to the shop,” Miller said. “In some instances, we’re having them sent directly to the next job. A technician will go out there and change fuel filters before that next job starts.”
Foley Equipment and Foley Power Solutions are experienced partners to the Kansas and Missouri oil and gas industry.