The recent acquisition of Planen & Bauen, one of the few urban planning firms specialising in data centers, will permit SPIE to further develop its data center expertise and to offer clients a complete range of services that cover the entire data center technical value chain: from eco-design to installation and maintenance.
Besides the billions of bits of digital information they process, data centers are real places – with real engineering challenges. “Around 80% of a data center is electronic and mechanical technology,” says managing director of Planen & Bauen,Volker Reiling, “yet the building has to accommodate all this equipment safely and effectively. So the architects need to understand the technology.”
“That is why specialised planning bureaus like Planen & Bauen are involved from the beginning,” explains Ulrich van Huet, managing director of SPIE Lück, one of SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa’s business units, “so this acquisition will help us to expand our data center competences even further up the value chain. To date, our expertise has been in implementation: electrical engineering, cable routing, ventilation and cooling, fire protection, and security.”
“We have been commissioned as general contractor for the infrastructure and in addition the customer provides major components. Our job is to coordinate the complete delivery, installation, and commissioning, on a very tight timescale – usually just 13 months,” explains his colleague Paula Guesnet, head of the data competence center department in the operational division Building Technology & Automation of SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa. “At the end, we hand over a fully-functional data center, so extensive testing is required, too.”
“Each data center has its particularities,” says Ulrich van Huet. Since 2002, starting with FRA4, SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa has supported Interxion on several of its Frankfurt builds. “On FRA16, we were dealing with a compact city-centre site on the city’s east side, so even staggering deliveries to avoid blocking the busy Hanauer Landstraße was a challenge.”
“And due to space constraints,” adds Volker Reiling, “we had to install transformers weighing up to 80 tonnes into the third floor. That was a first, as generally transformers are placed on another site – and at ground level!” “So we stacked shipping containers and used a crane to lift them in,” recalls Paula. Sometimes, the digital world is much more physical than usually thought.
VOLKER REILING, managing director of Planen & Bauen
“What SPIE gets by acquiring Planen & Bauen is a planning firm specialised in data centers. Despite the high demand in the market, there are only a handful in the Frankfurt area because data center design is particularly challenging from a technical point of view.
Moreover, most of the clients are companies from outside of Germany who need English-speaking support for everything from understanding our risk-averse culture to processes for obtaining planning permission: we offer all of this as a one-stop shop.”