TAS: The Benefits of a 'Modular' Future for Data

JT Grumski, President & CEO If the numbers follow a historical precedent, the world will need roughly 400 million more servers to support growing technology demands by 2020. To put things into perspective, an analysis run by an industry veteran Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer at Apcera reveals: “A massive data center of 5,000 racks with 20 servers per rack has 100,000 servers. In order to have enough data centers for 400 million servers, we would need to add another 4,000 massive data centers measuring roughly 400K square feet with approximately 50 megawatts of power each.”

This explosive growth is driving the need for new and much more efficient datacenters that is just too massive to ignore. The biggest question here is how to provide cutting edge power efficiency, and rapid, scalable infrastructure for this next generation of data centers. We all understand how the technology behind the servers, routers, and software has become much more efficient. Unfortunately, many IT firms have overlooked how to make the facility infrastructure itself become effective and cost efficient to keep up with the technology. Typically the demand for growth is addressed by “adding more” to the current data center infrastructure with the same construction technologies that have been used for over fifty years. But for TAS Energy Inc., the next generation solution is already here, and it is rooted in modularity. “With the emerging technology trends such as IoT and Virtual Reality, the rate of growth for the typical data center load is only going to increase in the future,” says JT Grumski, President and CEO, TAS. “In these circumstances, where faster, larger capacity, more energy and capital efficient data center deployment is essential, modular technologies can play a significant role in meeting the demands of the market.” Developing such modular systems that resonate with the demands of both better power efficiency, and better cube efficiency, in mid to large data center installations, TAS offers 3-D modeling and design, offsite manufacturing and integration capabilities, that can modularize any subsystem within a data center. “This approach enables organizations to witness a real drop in the time-duration and cost required to deploy or expand any mid or large scale data center,” adds Grumski.

TAS’ expertise in the data center fields of power, HVAC, and infrastructure modularization comes from the company’s extensive experience in the power generation domain. In its early years of operations, TAS developed and pioneered the modular central plant space, which liberated power companies from the power output losses experienced by gas power plants during hot days. “We developed Generation Storage® for gas turbine inlet chilling, which today enables customers to manage peak electrical periods by utilizing lower cost off-peak power that is stored as chilled water and then used to generate additional peak power,” explains Grumski. Today, TAS is serving data center, commercial and power companies with its reliable and highly efficient modular technologies that ensure operational excellence of the entire infrastructure.

Adopting the Modular Thinking

Reducing the total power consumption in data centers is an imperative in today’s market.
According to a Department of Energy Intelligence report, two percent of today’s global electrical grid goes to powering data centers, which is projected to exceed the energy consumption of the airline industry in the next few years. By employing TAS’ modular approach, organizations can both reduce their facilities' total power consumption, and increase revenue per square foot of data center floor space.

"Our modular approach can successfully integrate customer selected technologies and accelerate data center construction from over two years to well under a year and enable a phased build out if desired"

They can also get to revenue and positive ROI more quickly as TAS’ proven modularization approach can help to dramatically reduce the time needed to build, upgrade, or expand their facilities by over 50 percent. The portable nature of modular built systems is another attractive feature that could save millions of dollars of CapEx during data center installations. The modular approach to infrastructure allows the manufacturing to be done offsite resulting in a much faster installation because any site work and foundations can be done concurrently with the manufacturing of the above ground infrastructure modules. These modules can perform different types functions with typical examples being air and water handling, power distribution, monitoring, security and fire protection. “Our modular approach can successfully integrate customer selected technologies and accelerate data center construction from over two years to well under a year and enable a phased build out if desired,” says Grumski.

TAS’ modular strategy breaks the data center system down into subsystems to match the scalability requests of the customer. “In cases where a facility is very large, yet the full capacity is not required from day one, these subsystems can be implemented on a just in time basis that satisfies the need of early tenants, but can be expanded over time as needed,” explains Grumski. Through this approach, the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) will be easier to optimize, by not prematurely placing under-utilized power-hungry equipment while optimizing cash flow. The same principles work for building an entire data center on a tight timeline. “Having a fleet of standardized modules at hand shortens the facility readiness schedule,” says Grumski.

TAS has designed and packaged 932MW of modular packaged chilling systems as well as hundreds of infrastructure modules for 14 different data center customers on three continents over the last decade. TAS has worked with large hyper scale customers to provide data center infrastructure that accelerates construction and reduces costs over traditional field erected execution. TAS recently delivered several hundred infrastructure modules that required the integration of hundreds of tons of steel, equipment, and miles of pipe and bus ducts in less than 12 weeks.

Power System Solution

In the power sector, the buzz is around Energy Storage and flexible generation. “The big challenge with natural gas turbines is that their power output can decline by as much as 30 percent in the heat of the summer, just when the power needs are peaking,” says Grumski. TAS has addressed that need by providing innovative thermal energy storage (TES) systems, which offer greater profitability and operational flexibility for gas-turbine-powered plants by allowing these plants to quickly ramp power up and down while also providing maximum summertime peak output and better overall fuel efficiency to improve the reliability of operation on the distribution grid.

With our patented technology, we can extract 14 percent to 19 percent more refrigeration capacity out of commercial chillers while improving energy efficiency by 12 to 18 percent

TAS’s thermal energy storage solution is a great fit for providing additional peak power and firm power capacity for any facility trying to cope with integrating the variable nature of renewable power generation. “We allow our customers to exploit daily pricing patterns to chill water in off-peak hours and then provide turbine inlet-air cooling in peak demand periods to boost output and improve the heat rate,” explains Grumski. In addition, TAS has 12 issued and pending patents covering power generation and refrigeration technology across a range of applications. “With our patented technology, we can extract nearly 14 to 19 percent more refrigeration capacity out of commercial chillers while improving energy efficiency by 12 to 18 percent,” adds Grumski. A major utility customer that has benefited from this technology is Dominion Power. Over the last 8 years, TAS has delivered 537 MW of peaking power to five of Dominion’s combined cycle gas plants.

The Continuous Journey

TAS utilizes a systems engineering approach to ensure that its modular solutions are comprehensive and fully integrated across the supply chain. The company has over 60 experienced engineering and technical staff across all disciplines focused on modular solutions. “Our engineers work with customers on modular conceptualization and prototyping to understand their unique system requirements, and Critical-to- Function dimensions,” says Grumski. “It helps us to segment our products into subsystems and conduct trade studies and analysis to achieve required performance metrics.” Key suppliers are integrated in this process to ensure that the risks and opportunities in the projects are fully considered and incorporated into the designs. The need for speed, rapid technology refresh, high energy and resource efficiency and just in time capital deployment fit very well with TAS’ core capabilities.

Behind the success of TAS lies the leadership of its CEO, the diligence of the executives and engineers, and the culture that shapes employees’ motivation. Grumski is an industry veteran with over 30 years of experience leading strategic growth, execution, and employee and customer engagement. “Throughout my whole career, I have focused on finding innovative solutions to customer’s challenges. At our company, we follow the same regime; aligning ourselves to our customer’s goal and vision to ensure their success,” says Grumski. “A perfect customer for TAS is one in which they are looking for innovative new ways to modularize some or all of their future infrastructure buildout, typically to reduce costs or shorten the schedule, and are looking for a company that specializes in doing exactly that. TAS typically works collaboratively with the owners’ design and development team to come up with better ways for changing the delivery model. Our team is excited to be a part of changing the way energy and data center infrastructure is designed and built.”


Houston, TX

JT Grumski, President & CEO

TAS designs and manufactures modular cooling and energy systems for power plants and data centers