In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the construction of data centres. According to Gartner Consultants - In 2020, the global market for data centre construction was estimated to be worth £15 billion and is expected to reach £24 billion by 2027. 

 
What are Data Centres? 
 
Data centres act as the physical foundations upon which our digital economy is constructed housing computers, networking equipment like routers, security components, storage systems, and servers that work interconnectedly to collect, store, process, and distribute large amounts of data. 
 
A 2021 report by consultants Arcadis said that the UK’s superior cyber security, which is ranked as the best in the world, made the country a ‘prime target’ for data centre investment and identified London as the largest data centre market in Europe. 
 
“The UK is a critical interchange and communications hub between North America and Europe with over 50 undersea cables,” said Arcadis in the Data Centre Location Index 2021 report. “At the same time, the UK is beginning to roll out FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) and catching up with many of its neighbours, which will likely increase data consumption in the future.” 
 
So, what’s driving this growth? 
 
There are several factors, including the explosion of data and the need for more reliable and efficient ways to store it. Data centres are also becoming increasingly important as we move towards a more connected world. Data usage surged during and after the pandemic as more of the workforce are now working from home at least once a week. 
 
Demand for cloud storage and digital services as many individuals, companies, and even government agencies started adopting various online platforms for connectivity and business continuity. 
 
During the lockdown, many businesses reduced their physical infrastructure which reduced the capability to house the technological requirements that are required. 
 
Although there is a huge demand for the construction of UK data centres the construction of these huge structures is unique, complex and comes with several critical challenges. It is at this phase where deficiencies in design and delivery can become more evident and in turn cause huge cost and timeline overruns. 
 
What factors can affect the construction of a Data Centre? 
Location and Site Procurement 
 
Whether you are building a new facility or retrofitting an existing building, location is crucial for several reasons: 
 
Does the local utility have a sufficient power infrastructure to support the substantial, and ongoing, demands of the project? 
 
Are there climate issues in the proposed location that should be considered which may impact the heating/cooling of the facility? 
 
Is the location a safe one from a security standpoint? – (given the type of data that will be stored there). 
 
Brownfield Sites – In the UK brownfield sites could be seen as an attractive area to build however the remediation works may not be and could cause additional risks to the project. 
 
Power Connections 
 
When extensive amounts of equipment are necessary, power supply determines capacity and so, therefore, becomes increasingly important. Power connection works tend to involve extensive disruption to public areas near the project site which increases project risks. Build-over agreements with public utilities could present issues in terms of damage and disruption. Therefore, the project risk matrix and insurance programme design should be comprehensive and calculated. The equipment on-site needs to guarantee the specified levels of performance for a data centre as reduced efficiency can impact a contractor’s bottom line. 
 
Specialised Contractor Shortages 
 
As we all know that the construction industry is undergoing skills shortages in many sectors. Currently, insurers are paying special attention to whether the selected contractors have the experience and credentials to execute the specialised elements of the build. 
 
Price Fluctuations 
Escalating project costs due to an increase in demand and limited supplies available can result in price escalations. The need to set budgets and have the necessary insurance programmes in place can only help to reduce the likelihood of project cost increases. 
 
 
Cooling Facility Construction 
The increased demand and the sheer number of servers located in a data centre require significant work in water (in an electronic environment) and heavy lifts to design powerful and efficient cooling systems. The construction methodology will be vital as insurers will view these works as high-risk activities. 
Sustainable Alternatives 
 
This is a relatively newer discussion and consideration when it comes to the construction of data centres. The conversations that have highlighted the impact the construction industry has on the environment has created a spotlight and discussions about data centres. The sheer size of the buildings, the output of energy and the impact on the physical environment means that more innovations and green energy need to be considered when constructing, designing and building data centres. 
 
Demanding Schedules 
 
Due to the continuing price escalations, the demand and need for data centres and the loss of possible profits for businesses create a huge amount of pressure for contractors and subcontractors to complete projects as quickly as physically possible. This can create very little room for errors or delays and can in turn create a huge amount of pressure. 
 
Security 
 
The importance of the ongoing operation of data centres and the information, which is stored within, overall security is crucial. Not only must the physical security of the site be addressed, but protections must be put in place for the information which is stored at the facility. This can often mean that projects are confidential and need the utmost security from contractors and subcontractors working on site. 
 
Despite the simple exterior features of a large-scale data centre, the construction and operation of such a facility is anything but mundane. At AMB Recruitment Group, we have a thorough understanding of the construction process. Our team have worked on a number of data centre projects alongside our partners. We have worked on hiring the right skills and candidate experience to ensure that our partner’s focus can be on keeping their project on track, limiting potential risks for late completion and all the other expectations that are required for the contractor or subcontractor to complete such a complex project. 
 
If you would like to discuss your data centre project with our team, contact us on Tel: 01928 240 408 or email us on info@ambrecrutimentgroup.co.uk 
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