One Byte at a Time

While off-site prefabrication is now commonplace in the commercial building sector to enable parallel construction, the move toward modularisation in Data Centres has seen similar strategies flourish.


Modular design and construction is rapidly changing the face of the Data Centre industry. As well as offering Data Centre operators the ability to fast-track construction to more quickly meet client demands, modularisation enables scalability and allows for capital expenditure to be aligned with tenant agreements and revenue.

Such strategies also deliver other project benefits including safer work environments, improved quality control and reduced waste and associated costs.

Already an industry leader in off-site prefabrication, A.G. Coombs is applying its capability in Data Centre design to deliver a range of bespoke modular solutions that make scalability and even portability a reality.

This was the case when the A.G. Coombs’ Projects Data Centre team was engaged by Southern Cross University (SCU) to design and develop a turnkey “edge computing” facility for its Coffs Harbour campus.

As well as service the campus’s local computing needs and integrating with the University’s primary data centre located on the Lismore campus, the University required a solution that was space efficient and relocatable should campus ICT facility requirements change.

Whilst just 26m² in floor area, A.G. Coombs was able to deliver a prefabricated solution with all the hallmarks typical of an Enterprise Class Data Centre.

The facility features four, scalable ICT racks with a total 25kW computing capacity, and a design based on high availability, resilience and redundancy with N+1 cooling, N+1 modular UPS (uninterruptable power supply) and backup power from a dedicated standby generator.

A.G. Coombs has also successfully deployed an energy efficient cold and hot aisle containment cooling solution within the limited space, served by a variable speed cooling plant.

While the site was prepared, including the installation of concrete footings, electrical sub-mains, standby generator and connections, the data centre facility was constructed in A.G. Coombs’ Integrated Prefabrication facility in Melbourne.

All critical power, cooling and fire systems were fully tested and pre-commissioned in the factory environment prior to the building being transported and installed on the Coffs Harbour campus late last year.

“Whilst the facility is small, it has been designed and built to a standard that is found in larger mission-critical Data Centre facilities,” says Luke Walford, Associate Director and Infrastructure Manager at Southern Cross University.

“A.G. Coombs provided a solution that was value for money, satisfied our technical requirements and delivered the project with a high degree of professionalism.”

For more more information on A. G. Coombs modular data centre solutions, contact Mark Toner, Manager Data Centre & Telecommunication Facilities – mtoner@agcoombs.com.au.

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