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Three major considerations


ABM Critical Solutions’ Business Development Director, Alex Blake, chats with us about how to keep raised access flooring in data centres efficiently clean.


When it comes to raised access flooring in data centres, there are three major areas of consideration for


facilities management: adapting to flooring design evolution;


effective execution of raised access flooring replacement work; and the


importance of regular and specialist technical cleaning.


Flooring design evolution Whether the focus is installation or maintenance, understanding the construction of the equipment in the room is extremely important. Maintenance and cleaning plans will need to be adapted depending on whether the design allows for more or less cooling space. This aspect is vital as overheating in a critical space can result in a circuit shortage. Downtime in data centres can mean a huge loss of earnings for businesses, so it is to be avoided at all costs.


As well as acting as a floor void plenum chamber to allow delivery of conditioned air to the underside of the server racks, the cavity in raised access flooring (RAF) has also historically been used to house power and connectivity cables. However, poor cable management, which can restrict the correct air path for cooling systems, has led to new flooring designs. These see cables stored above the critical equipment instead, leaving more space below the floor for cooling infrastructure which is vital to the day-to- day running of the data centre.


Raised access flooring replacement


Expanding the critical space, damage to an area, or the threat of Zinc Whisker contamination are the usual reasons for an RAF replacement. Correct RAF replacement requires installation of zip walls into the main data hall to stop any cross contamination around the ‘clean zones’ of the remaining data hall.


Plenum air flow baffles should also be installed inside the floor void to stop contamination entering the ‘clean’ areas. It is a delicate process which must be carried out by qualified technicians such as ABM Critical Solutions to prevent system failures.


Specialist technical cleaning


Regular technical cleans to the sub floor are essential. These should be completed using specialised equipment and materials, including triple-filtration high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) or S-Class vacuums. Commercial vacuums without the HEPA filtration filter systems allow particles back into the room.


Underfloor contaminates left within the floor void increase the risk of unexplained server outages which can be caused


56 | FLOORCARE & MAINTENANCE


by particulate matter with a conductive element, being caught within the flow of conditioned air and finding its way onto printed circuit boards.


It is essential that technicians are trained to identify Zinc Whiskers – something that ABM Critical Solutions offers as mandatory during a technical clean. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) testing is also performed on the suspected areas: the analysis is collected on a sticky tape stud which is examined using a scanning electron microscope and energy-dispersive X-ray analysis (EXD).


Low-speed and high-speed vacuumated electric floor rotary machines should be used to cleanse the raised floor surface within the data hall; the buffers allow for interchangeable cleaning pads to be used. These ensure the contaminated floors are thoroughly cleaned and ready for use.


Human error and infrastructure failure caused by insufficient maintenance are the main reasons for critical downtime and outages, but they can be avoided if the above steps are followed correctly.


www.abm.co.uk/critical-solutions/ twitter.com/TomoCleaning


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