With data centers going up quickly all over the country, quality control and the commissioning process are vital steps to making sure everything is getting done correctly.

Yet the typically high-touch process has been complicated by social distancing regulations and other health precautions that are part of doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Compass Datacenters wanted to complete testing and certification for TierPoint’s new facility in Raleigh, North Carolina, it knew it needed to reduce on-site staff, so it used video-streaming tools and sensors where, typically, humans would step in.

“Once we decided we could do this potentially remotely, the distance by and large was down to CDC social distancing guidelines,” said Ricky Vasquez, Vice President of Data Center Facilities of TierPoint. “From a virtual perspective, it was done using various methods in the field, some of that live video feed.

“We also had a couple different Teams meetings active, one of which was in place to manage some building management system aspects of the project, as well as the field work that needed to be done. We had both of those going in parallel throughout the process.”

It was an innovative way to solve a problem posed by this crisis, even if it may not be one clients want to use if we can return to a world like the one we interacted with in 2019.

“I think the traditional approach is certainly going to win out overall and would be the preferred method – certainly from our perspective,” Vasquez said.

Of course, data centers are one of the few industries that have actually seen demand increase during the pandemic, with work-from-home setups requiring strong connections and plenty of people stuck on the couch utilizing streaming services.

“It’s been – I really hate to say business as usual – but I think for the most part it has been business as usual in an unusual time,” Vasquez said. “We’ve been able to conduct our normal business and do it very well.”

We all hope other businesses are able to get back to business as usual sooner rather than later, and even for the data centers, getting back to a hands-on commissioning process would bring huge benefits. Until then, Compass and TierPoint have worked out a process that is the next best thing.

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