Physical protection and security expertise paramount to data centre success

Written By

Rich Story
US Technical Lead for Data Centre Applications



Considering the amount of investment companies make into digital infrastructure, and how crucial it is becoming to the global economy, protecting these assets in terms of physical security is of the utmost importance. Digital Infra Network’s own development director, Seb Auzonne, spoke to Rich Story about Roxtec’s solutions.

Could you give us a little bit of background as to who you are and about Roxtec’s expertise?

Roxtec is a global manufacturer of mechanical seals, specialising in securing pathways for cable pipe and conduits. We primarily protect against water and fire damage, but we also provide weathertightness and airtightness physical security. Personally, I am the US technical lead for data centre applications at Roxtec, which means I work with owners, engineering firms, and contractors on large data centre projects.

Can you explain more about how Roxtec interacts with the data centre industry?

Basically, our mission statement is to protect the life and assets of a data centre, and when we provide solutions, it is generally for the critical areas of the facility that provide power and connectivity. To give you an example, we protect exterior walls from the weather and maintain a fire rating. So, not only are we offering a way back in through that opening, because it is a mechanical seal that is reopenable, the customer can reconfigure it in a number of different ways to meet that future growth and expansion they might have.

Outside of seals, what else is Roxtec known for?

Alongside being the global leader of mechanical sealing solutions, we also act as a strategic partner for our customers, including support during engineering, construction, and operations phases. Ideally, Roxtec is involved right from the design and engineering stage of a project, and the designs are based on certifications that we hold. We provide those designs in PDFs, CAD files and part of BIM families.

On the construction side, it is really about narrowing down the cable schedules, providing site surveys, and putting together bid packages for the contractors before going out and providing onsite training and submittals for those projects.

And finally, in that transitory period between the construction and the operations phases, we provide commissioning documentation, as-built drawings, and inspection services.

What does an ideal project look like?

Typically, we would get a call from an engineer who has a basic set of criteria they want to meet, alongside a set of demands which must be met along the way. With that information, we typically ask additional questions regarding the schedule and what they are hoping to achieve within those parameters, and then suggest appropriate solutions based on our certifications. From there, we can update their specification ready for submission to the owner.

Earlier on, you mentioned power and connectivity. What are some typical applications for Roxtec solutions in this area?

On the power side, it can be anything from the pathway from the substation, through volts into the initial gear outside, providing seals on exterior equipment, and protection for exterior walls or for conduits.

In terms of connectivity, on the fibre side, it all starts in the vaults. We seal around the inner duct, and then as it comes out of the vaults into the buildings, we can seal that pathway to prevent humidity and gases from entering the building. Once it is inside the building, then we can start to seal the power and fibre in exterior walls, creating a layer of physical security where we can delineate security zones.

What are some of the concerns that your customers are experiencing at present?

They range from typical issues around weathertightness and making sure their gear is weather tight outside, to physical security. That could be on the inside of the building, where they want to make sure that a wall is just as secure as going through a door in terms of cable security.

There is a lot of focus right now on climate change. How has this affected demand for Roxtec’s solutions?

Engineers working on data centres are really specifying their requirements down to how those penetrations into the building are sealed, so we are seeing more of a focus on pathways. That could be in the specifications side of a project, or perhaps being called out to make sure that, whether it is a vault or an exterior wall penetration, the customer is watertight and weathertight.

To wrap up, what do you enjoy most about working for Roxtec?

I am a problem solver, and I love fixing things. I get to work with people on very important projects, and they are some of the smartest people in the industry, and I am really grateful for that.

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