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Connected Partners: Mission Critical

As technology continues to advance, the need for infrastructure to support it continues to rise. The transition from local storage methods to cloud providers has increased the demand on the Mission Critical industry to outpace the growth of technology. Our teams around the country are working to remain a prominent player in Mission Critical providing HVAC, plumbing, fabrication, commissioning, and specialty equipment solutions to data centers.

With thousands of servers running simultaneously, these facilities generate an incredible amount of heat. Our role is to properly install and reject the heat load by keeping appropriate temperatures as designed by the owner and engineering team. We see several different methods, “Each data center is designed differently in how they are cooled, and we respond to many different methods of cooling as determined by the owner,” said Jack Duren, Project Manager in Omaha. “The owner works alongside a team of engineers to design the system for that particular data center, our job is to deliver the end product.” Jack also said that MMC Contractors sees positive results from having in-house engineers, as they can help guide decision-making should the owner need assistance.

With the demand for data centers being so high, it’s important to produce results efficiently, and preconstruction is a huge factor in creating quick turnarounds for clients. Owners want to know how they can build these facilities quicker, more cost-effective, and with fewer people on the jobsite. Our teams facilitate that by building out prefabricated assemblies and delivering them to the jobsite. Parts that are constructed offsite in a controlled environment are built safer, faster, with better quality, and reduce manpower onsite. The benefits of prefabrication are very appealing to the owner. With four prefabrications hubs across the country, in Kansas City, Omaha, Las Vegas, and Nashville, our companies are committed to completing projects efficiently, safely, and in a manner that results in success for all parties.

The success of a data center comes down to a few simple words: reliability, redundancy, availability.  Any data center must provide its end user reassurance their data is safe and secure.  Focusing on the traits above, it’s no surprise that there are multiple backup systems in place in case of any system complications. Each client has an individual style of building redundancy into their data center to ensure servers remain online. It’s important to have backups for all HVAC, plumbing, and specialty equipment systems. In Jack’s words, “any system that affects the servers and their 24/7 reliability has redundancy.” In layman’s terms, there’s a backup plan. Our teams position themselves as partners for life by providing maintenance and routine service, as well as equipment replacement and upgrades, which typically occurs every two years. With technology ever evolving, the facility must constantly adapt, and we aim to provide the most exceptional solutions to create a trusting and loyal relationship with our clients.

What sets this industry apart is privacy. All information regarding the owner and the construction of projects remains confidential. “Even in the office, our teams don’t mention the name of the client. We want to make sure we keep everything confidential,” said Jeff Tyler, Business Development Manager in Kansas City. “The end-users have information that they want to remain private, so it’s not only our job to make sure the servers remain safe, but also to protect the owner’s proprietary information.”  Along with this, Jeff said that the location remains confidential for safety reasons. “Privacy and confidentiality is critical, and we work hard to uphold that expectation for our clients.” Lastly, our teams file project information on a secure server which cannot be accessed by any employee’s outside of the project team.

Greg Hunter, Project Manager in Omaha, started working in Mission Critical in 2007 and has noticed a shift in the industry as it has grown. In the early 2000s, most data storage for companies could fit in a closet room, compared to now when mega-buildings are needed to house servers for many corporations.

MMC Contractors works on several types of data centers including hyper-scale. These projects are typically 50-80 megawatts per building. They are owned by a single company, and the data storage can be leased to other companies or used entirely by the owner. In addition to hyperscale, we work in colocations, which is a compact facility of many servers shared by different companies. This is something Greg truly enjoys about the industry; no project or client is the same and there’s an opportunity to grow and adapt as the industry does. “The buildings aren’t constructed to be appealing, but to be as discrete as possible, like concrete boxes, to lessen interest in them. Regardless of the type of data center, they’re big, complex, and challenging projects. That’s why I went into construction, to work on projects like this.”

Along with hyper-scale facilities comes the need for a large amount of land to build them and professionals in the pipeline to operate them. Although the buildings are large and discrete, our teams haven’t noticed a huge concern among the small-town communities where they are housed. “Our team in Omaha has noticed a positive reaction from the communities we work in. These projects create educational opportunities for our youth and workforce surrounding data centers, the construction industry, the economic impact, and careers that stem from them,” said Stacey Odinas, Proposal Coordinator. “We’re proud to be a part of the industry in this way. These facilities are not coming into communities to change them, rather contribute to the area, bring more people to the community, and provide jobs. I think that’s something that most people don’t consider when they think about Mission Critical.”

As mechanical contractors we are constantly making connections – whether on the jobsite, in the community, with our valued trade partners, and more. These connected partnerships are critically important in constructing and servicing the essential structures in our lives.

Within Connected Partners — a thought leadership magazine created for valued clients and prospective partners of the MMC Contractors companies — we hope to provide you some essentials as well. You’ll find insight into trends important to our industry; stories of our partners making an impact; and resources you might find helpful in what you do every day.

As employee owners, we recognize the importance of adapting to the ever-changing industry, but it’s the strength of our partnerships that take all of us to the next level. The structures we create and the communities that value our collective success enable us to evolve and grow every day.