Data Centers: Increasing Speed to Market

by Brad Schenck

Construction teams across industries are faced with common challenges: shortened schedules, tight budgets and labor shortages — all while bringing facilities online faster to meet an uptick in demand, particularly in the mission critical sector. JE Dunn Construction has deployed creative solutions to increase speed to market for data centers at a time when the market needs them the most.

Modular construction: Modular construction involves prefabricating components — such as input and output switchboards, UPS modules and battery cabinets — in an off-site facility for quicker installation, either in modular containers or open skids. The modular containers and open skids contain all assembled equipment and are shipped directly to the site for installation of each component, as trade partners are ready for them. This cuts the time in the schedule that would be required to build these components onsite for a traditional stick-built project. When the client orders premade skids and has them onsite, that makes construction faster and reduces the overall schedule. One of the biggest risks to a data center schedule is getting the equipment onsite when it’s needed. Having premade skids available eliminates that risk.

Advanced work packaging: Advanced work packaging takes design down to the utmost level of detail to eliminate mistakes, improve quality, enhance safety, save time and increase efficiency through repeatability. It combines planning, prefabrication and modular components at not only a higher level of detail but also to a much larger scale that creates smaller, repeatable packages for installation that are easy to track and execute. By breaking project scopes into smaller packages, teams can reduce the amount of build-up of work-in-process, in turn decreasing the risk for project delays. 

Shift the schedule left: Another way to shorten the schedule and reduce the risk for delays is a shift to commissioning to the “left” in the schedule, or beginning activities earlier in the process. This frees up time on the back end (or right side) of the timeline. Teams create fully functional systems off site ahead of typical project schedules to eliminate potential misalignments and delays. By having an offsite location to test equipment before the building is complete, project teams can work out any bugs with the owner/engineer, agreeing to the final product in a controlled environment.

Changing the model: Each owner and project is unique, but, by changing the approach and execution model, owners get back time, predictability and peace of mind throughout the construction process. 

Brad Schenck is senior vice president and Southwest Division leader of JE Dunn Construction, a domestic general building contractor in the United States founded in 1924, now with offices in 24 locations.

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