Things are really heating up now in terms of progress on-site at NLE, as we document another three weeks of work at our forthcoming data centre.
We’re almost at the one year mark in terms of when we first gained access to the new building, and despite some setbacks early on due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been extremely pleased with how quickly we’ve transformed the site from shell to data centre.
We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting ever closer!
The last three weeks have seen tremendous progress across a wide range of project areas. The most notable changes have centred around the physical adjustments to the rear of the facility, as the first set of louvred intake panels are cut into the exterior walls for Data Hall 1.
As we hope is self-evident, the visual and functional change on-site has been noteworthy, to say the least.
Big advances have been made in containment, which helps move the project along in many areas. Our fire contractors are now able to bring all systems together, and complete the VESDA and extinguishant panel integrations with the main building system.
Having Pod 1 reach point of completion from an assembly perspective is also a major project milestone, and gives a tangible focus point for any tours of the site ahead of it opening.
Next week we will reach 12 months on-site at NLE, although due to COVID-19 restrictions early on, we’re probably more like 9 months of true work into the project.
The next set of louvres will be installed in the next week or so, along with further works on various open projects. This all falls alongside larger project work, which will see broader stroke progress as the build continues towards full onlining in the next few months.
We have another two weeks in the books on-site at London East, as things continue to develop as we head towards energisation.
The last couple of weeks have seen a good amount of change across a number of areas, including dramatic visual changes in Data Hall 1, and to the generator canopies.
The containment system in Data Hall 1 has now been partially assembled, scheduled for completion next week. Most importantly, the two pod entry / exit doors have been installed, and had their electric opening and closing mechanisms setup.
The containment pods are extremely impressive in person, and will provide a dominant focal point for the first hall. The contact-free entry system, which makes use of a proximity sensor, is particularly impressive to see and use.
The walls – as seen above – have begun to see more tech installed upon them, in the form of various panel boards for various systems. These will have their feeds installed as the main electrical works are underway. In particular, the newest generation VESDA-E panels are very striking, and work much better with the colour pallet at East (compared to their previous generation white / white and green panels). It’s the little details that we really love, and which come together in making a truly beautiful facility.
We think that the refinished generator canopies are a real show-stopper. These sit in a rather dominant position in the front compound, and as such we wanted to ensure they remained in-keeping with the visual language of the site. They’ll be having their ID and branding vinyls applied soon, which again will add to their commanding presence.
The adjustments to the skin of the building are scheduled to begin in the coming two to three weeks, in line with the commissioning of the water supply and drainage to the evaporative coolers, which began this week.
The open set of works as seen above will be brought to a close, as the main electrical contractors begin. Works will continue across the board, most intently focusing on cooling and fire system works, which are now underway throughout the building.
We’ve enjoyed an exciting fortnight of changes at NLE for this instalment of the Build Blog, with a large number of big ticket items landing on-site.
This has resulted in notable change throughout the facility over the past two weeks, across a number of key areas. The most striking of these has been the siting of our new generators, which now sit in their final positions in our front compound.
Alongside the generators arriving – which are having a full canopy refinish in anthracite grey next week – we’ve also taken delivery of our first containment pod, including racks and the cold aisle system. This has resulted in major visual change in Data Hall 1.
We have a time lapse of the generators arriving and landing in place coming very soon, so watch out for this on our socials.
The first containment pod can now be assembled in Data Hall 1, which will be another major milestone in the deployment of our new facility.
The installation of our exterior building sign was quite a momentous occasion, as it’s the first time this facility has been properly branded with our logomark. This is the exact same style of sign as seen on the side of our London Central facility, with the diffused backlighting that really makes the sign pop at night.
The first instalment of armoured cabling to arrive, which will make up the bulk of the main underfloor power routes, will total somewhere in the region of eleven tons. The fire cabling within the building, which covers all detection and alarm systems, will total 2.5km in length.
We’ve had lots of custom made parts arrive over the past few weeks, destined for installation and / or use throughout the facility. One such item is a custom fork lift plate, which has been designed to take racks from the loading bay up to either floor level. This is a heavy duty steel plate welded to fork sleeves, which is low profile enough to drop straight into each loading dock.
The on-site schedule really picks up in the next week or two, as things begin to move on the end-out works. The site has a large number of trades beginning work, including the fire team, generator canopy refresh team, lift engineers, and a team who will be heading up adjustments to the skin of the building as part of our cooling system(s). This is all happening alongside the main power contractors beginning work, following completion of all design and design testing.
Visual updates have been somewhat limited throughout January, hence the delayed publishing of this five week instalment of the Build Blog.
The bulk of time and effort on-site is still being spent on end-out plans, and getting the energisation works underway. Alongside this, we’ve also been carrying out supplementary works in a number of areas, to keep things progressing while time is spent on final stage plans.
In terms of physical on-site work, we’ve been keeping tempo with a range of works across a number of areas, all of which have helped to keep visual progress steady (but comparatively limited) while the next phase is executed behind the scenes.
Because visual change is somewhat limited at the moment, we have a lesser number of photos available in this instalment, however they do show various changes and arrivals throughout the site.
The ground floor areas that were due checker plate cladding as part of the phase one roll-out have now had all areas completed, aside from a couple of missing sheets; we’re now waiting on additional material to arrive with us. This will also allow for checker plating and associated bash protection to be installed in the loading bay, where equipment will be lifted to each level loading dock for both the ground and first floors.
The ground floor has also had its final lighting systems cabled and energised, meaning that all site lighting can now be removed – a great milestone in terms of this becoming a self-supported utility it its final guise.
The main front-of-building turnstile came back to us late last year, having been to our powder coaters to ensure a match with the existing system at London Central. This was installed towards the end of 2020, however has yet to have its internals fitted to the overhead containment tray. This will be done when weather permits, given the current snowy state of the UK earlier this week!
Some of our new electrical boards have started arriving on-site. These are largely our new Mardix units, which have been built in a number of varieties depending on the end use case, and delivered in our signature orange. These really pop against the otherwise monochrome data halls, turning out just as we had planned. The larger of the two orange board types each hold a self-contained ATS to allow for dual incoming feeds for all critical M&E equipment.
Most of the VESDA equipment is now on-site, aside from the red pipework that will be installed to collect the air samples. This forms part of the final fire protection plans, which are being completed in the next couple of weeks.
You can also see that our comms panels (ODFs) from Ortronics have arrived, which will be used to handle and distribute fibre from each A and B core. These will be installed as part of the network roll-out at London East, which is set to begin later in this final stage of works.
We’ve also had a team up on the main roof this week, however things were postponed slightly due to adverse weather. Despite there being no issues with the roof, we’re electing to have the roof resealed for our own peace of mind; something we did at London Central also. This will lead onto roof and skin adjustments for apertures in due course, both for personnel access and our cooling system.
What else has been happening?
The bulk of progress in January has definitely fallen into the ‘else’ category when it comes to the Build Blog, as the vast majority of time continues to be spent on desk work, bringing together the final elements that will enable client services to go live at NLE.
Those elements include LV and HV electrical, which form the bulk of the end-out process. The transformer equipment and the generators fall into this work category, which were ordered this week. We’re very excited to share the delivery of these items as they begin to land with us!
We’ve also finalised plans for everything on the fire protection side of the project, which will be installed concurrently with the main power systems.
Excitingly, we’re also having some really interesting conversations with organisations interested in taking space from day one. These range from simple DR services to support primary systems elsewhere, through to full private pods, custom designed to requirement.
We have a very large shipment arriving with us soon, holding all of the containment for the first pod of racks in Data Hall 1 – this is something we’ve been excited to receive for some time, and equally something we’re very excited to share with you here.
Our team enjoyed some much-needed time off over Christmas, following a long run of works on-site at NLE in the closing months of 2020.
This first instalment of the Build Blog for the new year shows the current state of the facility as we head firmly into 2021 – the year in which our new site will launch to clients for the first time.
Before we start, did you catch our NLE envelope time lapse video? If not, here it is again for your viewing pleasure!
The first few weeks of January have primarily been comprised of desk work, bringing end-out plans together as we enter the next phase of development.
As part of this, we’ve made great strides in finalising plans for our diverse dark fibre routes, which we will be announcing very soon.
Aside to planning work, we’ve also been completing some smaller tasks on-site, which have helped keep progress up despite the Christmas break and the focus on more general plans and scheduling.
So here’s an update of photos showing additional work completed since our last update, along with some general site photos to serve as a starting point for the Build Blog in 2021.
The checkerplate is the most obvious visual addition since the last instalment of the Build Blog, covering the walls in all high foot fall customer routes. This gives much-needed protection and a great deal of added visual energy to the space. Custom plates for all high risk doors will also be installed soon.
The reason for having most of the ceiling tiles still in a state of removal is simply for ease of ongoing access. We still need easy accessibility above the grid for cabling overhead services during the build, and as such we will only be installing the tiles once access requirements calm down. This is to ensure the tiles are installed with the least amount of disturbance once in place.
As you can see from the wider facility photo set, the progress made in the last ~8 months is impressive to say the least. As a reminder of where we’ve come from in that time, we’ve included a set of day one photos of the space below.
What our team have managed to achieve in this time is staggering (even more so as this all occurred in the middle of a global pandemic!), and we’re incredibly proud of everyone involved, particularly as we move onto the next phase of energisation, preparing us for launch later this year.
What else has been happening?
We’ve expanded our team!
We’ll be making the official announcement soon, although the hawked eyed among you may have already seen this causing quite a stir online.
We’ve also been going through our first ISO recertification audit, following our initial accreditation to both ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 back in 2017. This will renew our certificates for another three years, with annual surveillance audits covering the 12 month cycles in between. The scope of our certifications will be expanded later this year, to include the new NLE site. This is our first fully remote audit, thanks to the COVID pandemic, which has been an interesting new approach to the audit process.
Planning on the next phase of electrical works will continue, with a number of exciting developments to announce very soon.
We’ll also be continuing with a wide variety of supplementary works, which will includes taking delivery of our first customer enclosure pod; racks, containment, blanks etc, which will allow us to layout our first occupiable colocation space within Data Hall 1.