Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Data Center Design with Building Information Modeling (BIM)


Data center design involves a lot of timing of schedules, organization, tracking of materials and changes, etc. with complex design teamwork and coordination. For this reason, the process of Building Information Modeling (BIM) is introduced to facilitate and streamline data center project designs:

Better project coordination

BIM allows everyone - architects, electrical and mechanical engineers, project managers, etc. - involved in the project to input their data into the shared model. Information is kept in one place, which helps with communication and project coordination. 

Faster fault detection and assessing problems

Using 3D computer models allows the project team to detect and evaluate errors or fault easily that could cause an issue during construction. Your mission-critical building is shown in scale, and you are able to enter manufacturer details / data into a 3D model, visualizing the whole project and important issues during the design.

Deeper design preparation with improved management

Data centers is designed for large amounts of IT equipment supported by critical facilities (MEP - mechanical, electrical, plumbing equipment). All of these equipment & facilities have high power consumption. They must be fit properly, have proper distribution and suit certain service clearances. The routing of BIM allows electrical & mechanical (EM) designers and structured cabling system designers ( for optical fiber, high voltage / low voltage cables, etc.) to know exactly where to model for heat dissipation and adjust for any electrical duct work, and allows engineers to adjust for proper air flow.

For the raised-floor, it can be especially tricky. Most floor installers do not model their installations — adjustments for structural bridging and support are typically made in the field. Creating a BIM model of the flooring allows the installer to understand where the MEP systems are located in relationship to the pedestal support systems.Flooring installers can see where they need to modify their support framing early in the process and fabricate the necessary bridging and support components to span across the MEP systems where necessary. This eliminates the time and effort it would take to do this in the field once the MEP systems are installed, thus decreasing the field installation time.

By incorporating computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations into the BIM model, engineers can evaluate and fine tune server layouts based on the thermal modeling. You’re able to visualize how the air will flow inside the data center and see the temperature variation based on the height and how the air is moving. It’s especially helpful in being able to see how the servers in a computer room receive cold air and how hot air is removed (hot aisle & cold aisle).

Smoother commissioning and operations & maintenance (O&M) tasks

Data centers require a series of precise commissioning process to ensure performance and reliability. Commissioning information tags for each piece of equipment and feeder can be added to the BIM model to keep a live database of commissioning process status. These information are so valuable to the operational staff, such as submittals, O&M manuals, as-built plans, balancing reports and commissioning reports. When this information is inserted into the BIM database, the information can be retained and viewed for each piece of equipment, rather than in separate volumes. Data center operators would benefit from a comprehensive set of information.

Source: BICSI - BIM in Data Center Design (www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3ExZq-3iMA)

About us

Strategic Media Asia (SMA) is one of the approved CPD course providers of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) UK. The team exits to provide an interactive environment and opportunities for members of ICT industry and facilities' engineers to exchange professional views and experience.

SMA connects IT, Facilities and Design. For the Data Center Consideration Series, please visit 

(1) Site Selection,
(2) Space Planning,
(3) Cooling,
(4) Redundancy,
(5) Fire Suppression,
(6) Meet Me Rooms,
(7) UPS Selection, and
(8) Raised Floor

All topics focus on key components and provide technical advices and recommendations for designing a data center and critical facilities.