Expert services for data center operations
The establishment of Google and Yandex search engine companies in Finland aroused interest towards datacenter companies. Many municipalities and cities have industrial premises decommissioned from active service and ready-made infrastructure for operators.
In addition to tens of other projects abroad, CTS Engtec's project manager Reijo Parkkinen has lead design and building projects for international datacenter companies that are being located in Finland. Based on his experience, the important issues are comprehensive management of the permit process at the establishment stage and knowledge about international companies' core business activities. These are the issues that also the representatives of municipalities' industries have encountered. CTS Engtec's experts, who know the world of international technology companies, are, in fact, pioneers in organising location of international data center projects in Finland.
- In the initial stage, we map the criteria, in relation to infrastructure and premises, for the company planning to find a site for its plant. For some, a distance of hundred kilometres from a nuclear power plant may be the prerequisite, for some others, water cooling is unquestionably the determining criterion, or it can be the size of the industrial plot or its independent management. Safety aspects, generally, form one stringent criterion. If needed, we create a nationally comprehensive report about suitable plots for the company.
Permits and official inspections
-Finland's statutory environmental permits, building and dismantling permits and water construction permits are a part and parcel of seeing a project through. In this, CTS's long experience of cooperation with the authorities and their expertise in national issues speed up the completion of the permit process. Moreover, we coordinate building inspections and fire and electrical safety inspections. The required contacts we have with municipal and regional management and authorities, with environmental authorities and with fire safety experts quickly bring cost and scheduling advantages to a company establishing itself in Finland.
-Often a foreign company gets a surprise with Finland's legislation, which in many respects is different from that in many countries, especially regarding fire and occupational safety requirements. In this also, CTS's experts can help companies in speeding up their processes and in interpreting requirements, says Parkkinen.
Finland's environmental legislation defines the environmental permits datacenters are required to have and measures that need to be taken to have those permits granted. The most common measures by CTS Engtec include environmental permit applications drawn up by environmental experts and, when needed, related sampling for geological surveys as well as investigations related to water technology.
- Especially when dealing with an old industrial area, and depending on the nature of the past industrial activities in the area, often a thorough geological survey is required. One of the rarest subjects of investigation during my career was the chimney of an old paper mill: under the examination were the possible contamination of the bricks, safe dismantling of the chimney, dismantling costs and possible reuse or final site for the waste from dismantling. Later the chimney was dismantled, Parkkinen tells.
-If a datacenter is to be situated in a decommissioned industrial building, the dismantling of superfluous old construction work, plumbing and steel structures requires a dismantling plan and operations guide drawn up by an expert specialised in dismantling and structural design. It is advisable to plan the dismantling work beforehand, and in some cases even carry it out in advance, so that the launching of the project afoot and carrying it through can take place as fast as possible, says Reijo Parkkinen. In dismantling projects, CTS has experience about planning and project management services in the dismantling of an old pulp mill, in the dismantling of the interior of paper machine halls to transform them for reuse, as well as in the dismantling of a wood-receiving facility and a debarking plant, among other things.
Planning services from preparatory studies to implementation
The most important reasons for the location of datacenters in Finland are the country's favourable weather conditions, competitive costs of electric power, reliability of the power grid and general predictability of operational aspects. The expertise of CTS Engtec in the design and implementation of datacenters that are cost-efficient and have low capital costs is among the top of the field.
- In the best of cases, at the basic design stage the customer and the project's main organiser tackle the rough process solutions, such as electricity distribution, cooling systems and layout, to the level where they can be locked and where it is possible to proceed as agreed to an efficient and schedule-bound implementation design.
- For the layout, structural and equipment installation design we use the international BIM modelling or 3D design software. Electricity and cooling system planning play a central role in datacenter projects, as do power supply solutions and cooling solutions, which greatly depend on the existing regional infrastructure. As an efficiency measure for energy solutions, we use the international PUE standard.
-One big difference between Finnish and other Western countries' building methods is that in Finland building subcontractors or suppliers of building services do not, to any great extent, plan, calculate or define choices of material: they merely carry out the implementation plan of the planning company. When Finnish project management and planning professionals are used, it will be possible to define the materials and methods suitable to local construction. This results in absolute scheduling advantages and cost savings for the datacenter investor.
For smooth maintenance of the basic aspects of project management, including contacts, purchases, scheduling, planning management, work site administration and document hosting, those who work in datacenter projects need excellent language and diplomacy skills in order to combine the work cultures of different countries. The projects are multinational: subcontractors often come from several different countries and continents. Reijo Parkkinen from CTS Engtec says that in addition to physical work in case of datacenters, electronic data transmission, which is massive in comparison with a normal project, will be part of communications.
-I calculated that in one project's most hectic stage I received about 200 emails daily. The project manager must be able to prioritise things and when needed quickly resolve them. The time difference between continents can easily stretch a workday to a 15–20 hour one. When the weekend arrived, I was forced to go through the week's mail and check whether I had been able or remembered to react to all that, Reijo Parkkinen describes.
- The internal spirit of a project has a deciding role in employees coping and achievement. For CTS, it is important that there is a good communal spirit in these projects so that anything can be discussed and that grievances are addressed; so-called "accusation culture" is not practiced. The most important thing is a good result. And merry-making in the coffee room does not mean that work would not be done well or in sufficient quantities.