Flooring — 25 April 2012

Ken Koty, sales engineer for PDU Cables (www.pducables.com) and former data center facilities manager for Thomsen Reuters, says:
Labeling, a worthy obsession
I’ve had people call me obsessive compulsive, anal retentive and other not so flattering names in my data center career, but when it came to managing a mission critical facility and ensuring continuous uptime, being a little controlling is a good thing. 

One of my more obsessive traits involved labeling. 

Most of you are aware of the importance of having labeled power whips in a raised floor environment.  But there are many other things in a data center raised floor area that should also be labeled.  Proper labeling can prove very helpful when trying to locate infrastructure under the raised floor in a hurry. 

Let me share with you some of the areas where labeling really provides big benefits, yet very few data centers actually implement. 

Smoke Detectors

If you have smoke detectors under your raised floor I highly recommend adding some type of label on the raised floor panel right above it.  There is any number of ways to mark the panel; we used a template to router a big red X with the detector number on it.  A large floor plan layout is put at all the exit doors with the location of each detector on it.  That way if a detector was in alarm, we knew its exact location, and finding the right floor panel to pull was much easier once it was labeled. 

CRAC/CRAH Water Supply and Return Valves

Labeling your water supply and return valves to the CRAC/CRAH units can be a real time saver in the event of a water leak.  Every second can mean gallons of water under your raised floor, which can shut down your data center in a heartbeat.  We used a template to router a big blue V on each floor panel with a water value under it.  Each valve had a brass tag indicating which A/C unit it fed and whether it was a supply or return valve. 

Electrical Junction Boxes

If you have any type of electrical junction boxes under your floor, you will want to be able to locate them and also make sure no one puts any servers over them.  We used a template to router a big blue E on each floor panel with an electrical junction box under it. 

Using Multiple Colored Floor Panels

Using a different colored floor panel to create an egress route or pathway to the exit doors was a great safety measure in the event of an emergency.  It can get pretty overwhelming when you find yourself in the middle of a large data center if a fire alarm goes off.  We referred to it as “follow the yellow brick road” to safety.  We also would use different colored tile around our PDU’s and CRAC/CRAH units to let everyone know there was a code clearance requirement around certain electrical equipment.  Nothing could be left or stored on any colored floor panels.

These are just a few of the ways we manipulated and labeled our raised floor panels to ensure that if an emergency presented itself, we were prepared to deal with the problem as quickly as possible.  For us a little obsessive compulsive behavior paid off in 12 consecutive years of continuous uptime.

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(2) Readers Comments

  1. Labeling has been very useful in my job, too. I had the floor panels colored to lead to the nearest exits and proved to be very helpful when we had an emergency.

    • Randy, I can’t agree more. With our data centers we always think of continuous uptime and energy savings, but protecting our greatest assets our people is the most important roll of our job as facility managers.

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