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Data centres must prepare for supply shortages, says Aggreko

Supply chain

Data centre operators need to be prepared for disruption caused by potential supply chain shortages, Aggreko has said.

Based on the recent supply problems in the construction industry, Aggreko has urged that long-term planning for commissioning expertise and securing construction equipment is vital to ensure new facilities don’t face disruption.

The company points to figures from the Office for National Statistics that suggest material costs rose by 20% between July 2020 and 2021, and reports from the Construction Skills Network that claim the construction industry will need an additional 217,000 workers to meet demand by 2025.

Aggreko has stated that market intelligence reports have shown a compound annual growth rate of 4% from 2021 to 2026 in the Western Europe and Nordic data centre market. However, the pandemic has impacted the availability of specialist contractors, making it more challenging to access certain expertise – so innovative new strategies will be needed to fill skills gaps, such as engaging third-party expertise to test and commission facilities.

Billy Durie, Global Sector Head for Data Centres at Aggreko, said: “The upheaval the UK construction industry is currently experiencing has clear ramifications across multiple sectors, including the European data centre market.

“With contractors from this region often sought out on the continent for their expertise, any skills shortage could be problematic for facility providers on tight project schedules.

“This is doubly the case considering data centre construction continues to boom, meaning this disparity between falling supply and skyrocketing demand will need to be addressed. Long-term planning will therefore be required if contractors are to navigate this with minimal disruption.”

Durie continued: “Delivering a facility on time and to budget can be a very complex and demanding situation for data centre providers, and the current skills shortage in the market has further exacerbated a high-pressure situation. However, rushing through key processes is not the answer, as due diligence is required to ensure data centre resilience and minimise errors that could lead to reputational damage.

“Consequently, with scope for permanent hires in this area contracting, we would advise engaging as early as possible with global suppliers that can provide the key personnel and utilities equipment required for testing and data collection. By doing so, these contractors can plan in advance and avoid setbacks while accessing standardised, high-quality testing even while supply chains remain affected.

“Aggreko, for example already have multiple pan-European frameworks in place, meaning that contractors will receive consistently excellent levels of service, solutions, product quality and pricing. At a time when the market is experiencing great upheaval, this level of consistency is vital and should be sought after as a priority.”

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