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Optimising cable sealing solutions to protect data centres

Image: Adobe Stock / Evgen3d

Correct cable sealing solutions are vital to protect data centres from fire, explosion, electrical disturbance and flooding, says Andy Dyson, Market Manager for Data Centres at Roxtec.

Extreme weather events are becoming more and more common around the globe – increasing the threat to data centre operations posed by incidents such as flooding.

The US state of California; Queensland in Australia; Turkey and even Dubai have all been hit by floods in early 2024.

If water gets into a facility, it can cause outages with massive cost implications. Selecting purpose-built sealing solutions can save a data centre from drowning.

Underground power distribution and fibre networks must be protected against the constant threat of water. Every cable pit/vault or hand box represents a possible leak path and is a risk for the entire infrastructure.

Securing power supply and power distribution is critical for maintaining uptime. Sealing cable bus and conduits, switchgear, generators and transformers is vital to avoid equipment failure because of water entry.

Power and fibre cable entries into the exterior building envelope need purpose-designed seals. Without properly engineered solutions, these entries also become an ingress point for water, with the risk of damaging equipment or increasing humidity levels.

Water isn’t the only threat. In addition to sealing against water, there is also the important need to meet fire requirements to maintain the integrity of the data centre’s structure. That is why it is vital to make sure the sealing solutions used above ground are fire rated to provide certified protection.

There are environmental and financial advantages to installing a complete gas-tight sealing system. It will help in controlling the facilities’ climate and temperature, eliminating risks to sensitive equipment.

Within data centres, the cooling infrastructure may use more power than the IT equipment itself, and energy costs tend to exceed any other costs. As a result, data operators around the world are putting special focus on seals as they work to manage cooling and recycle excess heat.

Flooding, fire, heat and humidity aren’t the only threats. Add to the list lightning strikes, gas, dust, rodents, electro-magnetic disturbances and the risk of explosion. That is why robust and versatile sealing solutions are so crucial.

The nature of the data centre industry also means future proofing is another element when it comes to building and design. Expansion is always in mind.

That makes it equally important to use seals designed for scalable projects. The right seals can make it easy to trace cables, with engineers even able to install them around existing cables.

Having built-in spare capacity for additional cables and pipes means last-minute design changes or increased server density can be easily handled. Retrofit work can be carried out without having to shut down any services or add any material costs.

Data centre projects vary greatly from brick build constructions to steel and prefabricated facilities. That means that as well as being robust, cable seals also need to be highly adaptable.

They might be needed on power and control system cables passing through underground building foundations, or on fibre-optic and transmission cables ranging from Category 5 to Category 7.

There may also be further use on cooling pipes of different sizes and materials, and on cables and pipes passing through interior and outer walls, substations, control rooms, control cabinets, cable ducts and fibre ducts.

Air-tight round or rectangular seals can be applied to single or multiple cables or pipes anywhere – in outer walls, between compartmentalised security zones and in control cabinets.

They should be adaptable to power, fibre, coax and signal cables as well as cooling pipes of different sizes and materials, reducing the need for drilling holes.

With the constant challenge to deliver ever improving safety solutions comes a continued focus on rigorous testing and certification. Successful physical testing gives specifiers and clients new options and comfort in knowing they are using certified products.

The use of smart and certified sealing solutions helps to ensure safety and efficiency, both during the construction phase and throughout the lifecycle of the facility. The bottom line is, interrupted service or lost data is not an option.

Andy Dyson
Andy Dyson
Market Manager for Data Centres at Roxtec

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