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By Dan Hounsell, Editor
Data Centers Article Use Policy
The role of in-house maintenance and engineering departments in upgrade projects varies greatly depending on department workloads, department skill levels and experience, and project deadlines. In the case of Frito-Lay, Guck’s department played a central and active role.
“Our facilities team was responsible for all the construction work on campus,” he says. “After reviewing what the outside consultant had originally suggested along with the budget and timeline, we recommended a complete change in strategy to expand the building adjacent to the main electrical room to support the space for the new power paralleling switchgear.”
“Our team took the lead in negotiating the new paralleling switchgear (and in) the design of the building construction, (and) we hired the general contractor and managed the overall project from a day-to-day perspective.” The upgrade did present several difficult challenges.
“The main challenges we faced were implementing the project without power shutdowns and replacing the 24-year-old UPS (uninterruptible power supply) with a new, larger UPS with a flywheel back-up.”
Upgrade projects of any kind can provide benefits to organizations that go far beyond the installed equipment and the additional performance and capacity they provide. In some cases, they also can provide benefits for departments involved in the planning and execution of the upgrade. For Guck and his department, one such benefit was knowing that their performance on the upgrade project resulted in delivering a successful project that was completed well ahead of schedule and under budget.
“The project was completed in nine months versus the original estimate of three years,” Guck says. “Our corporate policies do not allow us to share the total cost of the project, but I can share (that) our costs to complete the project came in nearly 50 percent less than the original projection.”
Not surprisingly, the project also delivered benefits to the department related to the impact on maintenance and engineering activities.
“One of the biggest advantages of the upgrade is the flywheel backup versus the wet-cell batteries, which we considered, but (that) would have required additional building space for the new batteries,” he says. “Wet-cell batteries have a much higher maintenance and replacement cost.”
Perhaps the most meaningful impact of the project on the department related not as much to technical skills and advanced technology as to the ability to successfully envision, plan, schedule and execute such a complex project that involved systems and operations vital to the company’s long-term financial success.
“The greatest lesson we learned was to challenge the normal expectations and assumptions presented — to determine our options versus what we were told could be done,” Guck says. “Those lessons included flywheel backup and the fire protection Halon expansion, compared to the new gas fire-suppression system. We also determined methods of implementing cut-overs and found that innovative, out-of-the-box thinking did have significant paybacks for the company.”
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