Mission Critical: Kansas City contractor renovates data center

A long-standing partnership has resulted in many years of success for P1 Group and Saint Luke’s Health System – including the latest project at SLHS’s data center.

P1 Group has installed long runs of cable trays at the Saint Luke’s Health System data center in order to increase air distribution efficiency under the raised floors./Thomas Kepka

P1 Group has installed long runs of cable trays at the Saint Luke’s Health System data center in order to increase air distribution efficiency under the raised floors./Thomas Kepka

Steve Barber, P1 Group electrical foreman, has been working off and on at the Saint Luke’s Health System data center at the Summit Technology Center for more than five years. He was there when P1 Group initially installed all the mechanical and electrical systems for the 40,000-square-foot building. And he’s there now as P1 Group is helping Saint Luke’s Health System overhaul its data center.”We’ve worked with Saint Luke’s a long time,” Barber said. “Basically, whatever their needs are, we do it.”

The “mission critical” moniker is given to facilities that cannot afford down time for any reason. These data centers store information that has to be accessible at all times. Computers going down in some cases could be life-threatening.

With so much at stake, companies won’t compromise on the infrastructure of their buildings, so they hire experts to build and renovate their facilities.

Mike Mallett, director of network engineering & infrastructure design for Saint Luke’s Health System, said the very sensitive nature of all the organization’s facilities is why P1 Group is a preferred contractor for Saint Luke’s Health System.

“Data centers and hospital projects definitely require a much higher level of expertise and experience,” Mallett said. “Hospitals require many facets of specialized systems that typically do not get encountered in commercial and industrial projects.

“Similarly, 24-hour per day, 365 day per year data centers such as ours support the ‘heart beat’ for the entire health system. Therefore, any and all work performed within the data center requires exceptional care and planning to prevent an unexpected outage.”

History of P1 Group and Saint Luke’s

P1 Group has enjoyed a strong relationship with Saint Luke’s Health System that has spanned more than four decades – dating back to the mid-1960s. P1 Group has been a construction partner in all types of projects ranging from minor renovations to large building expansions. The company has completed literally hundreds of projects throughout the entire health system.

And during that time, Saint Luke’s Health System has developed a stellar reputation.

“Saint Luke’s Health System is considered one of the highest quality health care systems in the United States,” Mallett said. “Saint Luke’s Hospital is one of very few hospitals earning the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Therefore, it is extremely important in order to maintain our quality processes to continually enhance and improve our supporting infrastructures.”

Over the years, P1 Group has helped Saint Luke’s Health System do that. In 2002, P1 Group worked on the original renovation of the data center, which Payless Cashways had previously occupied, and has completed a number of other projects at that site along the way.

In 2004, P1 Group added an emergency chiller, and in 2007, P1 added 2,000 square feet to house the e-ICU area, where doctors can remotely monitor several patients at several locations.

“P1 has long been viewed as the leading mechanical contractor in Kansas City and has consistently performed quality work on all Saint Luke’s related projects,” Mallett said. “In addition, the electrical arm of P1 has consistently performed work in our data centers as well as other system operational areas with outstanding results.”

Current Data Center Project

Today, P1 Group is helping Saint Luke’s Health System with another large renovation to the data center by adding overhead cable trays.

Currently, all network cables are routed below a raised floor sharing the two-foot high air plenum space. As the number of servers increase, additional cables are required causing less under-floor area for vital air flow. This air flow is vital for supplying the necessary cooling for the above-floor equipment.

Additionally, the layer one network design did not comply with industry standards. Replacing the existing below-floor patch cables with a structured cabling design routed within ceiling-mounted cable trays has improved cooling efficiency and provided faster deployment of equipment and systems into production.

As part of this project, P1 Group has also fabricated and installed return air ducts onto the existing Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units. This forces the warmer return air through an above-ceiling air plenum instead of across the electronic equipment – improving the overall data center cooling efficiency by 10 to 12 degrees.

Along with the cable tray project, P1 Group is also working on the Uninterrupted Power Supply and HVAC Infrastructure Upgrade.

Saint Luke’s Health System added a completely new space that will house a second power room, which will offer redundant systems. In this room, the data center will be supported by four 800-amp automatic transfer switches, two 450 kva UPS’s and two 800-amp distribution panels. In addition a new 1,000 KW on-site emergency diesel generator has been added.

Mechanically, P1 Group is installing a 160-ton Carrier chiller, which will be used as the primary unit. In case of a failure, Saint Luke’s will switch to the overall building chiller, which is shared by several tenants.

As another backup, P1 Group is installing a 6,000-gallon fuel tank, which was recycled from the Saint Luke’s Wornall campus where it became available from P1 Group’s build out of the Wornall Campus Energy Center. This tank, which is fire rated, will replace a smaller tank and will increase possible operation from eight hours to about four days.

Both the LSTC Data Center UPS and HVAC Expansion as well as the LSTC Structured Cabling Project support proactive measures to improve redundancy, eliminate single points of failure in ensuring availability of our quality clinical operations, Mallet said.

The project is ongoing, but Mallett is confident that this and future projects will be as successful as previous ones.

“This relationship can be summed up in one word – trust,” Mallett said. “We have complete trust that P1 will perform quality work and perform this work in the best interest of Saint Luke’s in regards to cost.”

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