There has been a surge in the construction of data centres in South Africa since 2017, and the centres need accurate and reliable cooling regimes to function efficiently, says pump manufacturer Grundfos.
Grundfos external sales representative Nick Pluck says South African telecommunications companies are constructing big data centres in the big cities to cope with data storage requirements, as technology continues to advance and demand increasingly more cloud storage.
Additionally, with an increase in e-commerce amid the physical restrictions during Covid-19, individual companies may increasingly construct their own data centres.
In these multistorey data centres, or “server offices”, the cooling requirement is absolutely critical.
Grundfos typically receives specifications from consulting engineers on the cooling system required for a building. The company can supply pumps that deliver a specific pressure at a specific flow, while undertaking sizing exercises to determine the best pump for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) applications.
Grundfos also designs pump systems to specification and can include parameters such as motor speed, kilowatt size and materials of construction.
“With some systems in the industry operating with glycol, which is quite a corrosive liquid, the pump system would have to use a bronze impeller to eliminate corrosion, as well as cast iron housing, coupled with an appropriate mechanic seal,” Pluck notes.
Grundfos offers an “applications wizard” that enables users to select their application from a menu, along with system characteristics, to simplify the pump setup process for an end-user.
Pluck explains that some of Grundfos’ commercial building systems come with a controller that has a built-in screen which allows the user to commission the system, as well as make any operational changes. This is done through the set-up wizard.
From providing power for the pump set to final commissioning, the wizard provides instructions regarding the required inputs, based on the application it is being installed for.
These settings enable the system to operate at its full potential, since parameters can be set for pressure and flow, consequently enabling the controller to automatically control the pump set.
Pluck says the wizard allows for the configuration to enable monitoring of the pump set, either from the panel or remotely through a Grundfos remote management application.
Further, Grundfos’ service team also offers pump audits, whereby a technician measures the actual efficiencies and energy used by a pump set on site.
These technicians can make a sizing and selection recommendation to customers, enabling them to switch to more efficient products for their operation.
Pluck says Grundfos can retrofit existing buildings with better technology for ultimate cost and energy savings.
He adds that the biggest trend in HVAC is not necessarily new product developments, but new developments in terms of system design.
Grundfos hopes to soon bring a solution to the South African market that is modelled on the company’s distributed pumping solution in Europe, which will help with efficiency gains and the integration of products into the pump system.
However, the HVAC market is currently throttled by costs, says Pluck.
“From a manufacturing, raw material input and labour standpoint, these costs are currently a global issue, which limits the ability of an original-equipment manufacturer, such as Grundfos, to bring to market new solutions.”
The market does look promising, however, as Pluck points out that HVAC-type refurbishments on commercial buildings are continuing.
He says the scope for development within the HVAC segment of Grundfos’ business has not decreased as much as the company thought it would amid the Covid-19 circumstances.
For example, both residential and commercial buildings, including financial service providers, are increasingly installing new cooling and ventilation systems owing to increasing occupant health requirements.
Grundfos offers a great variety of pump housings in three main materials: composite, cast iron and stainless steel.
The company also offers the NK end-suction long-coupled pump, as well as the TP range, which is a single-stage inline pump, for HVAC applications. Both products include the option of having a built-in variable-speed drive, allowing for better control over each individual pump.