The data center construction game is not for the faint-hearted. It’s fast-paced, costly, complex, and brutally competitive. Winning can be rewarding, but it requires the flawless execution of every play. Produced by MOCA Systems, Inc., a company with deep experience and expertise in owner’s representation services and advanced construction planning technology for contractors, Touchplan is the leading data center construction planning platform.
Touchplan gives executives, managers, and workers in owner and contractor organizations an accessible, common platform that can be integrated with other critical software systems and provide full, detailed visibility of project requirements, schedules, constraints, conflicts, status, and performance.
Record Requirements and Record Risk
AI, e-commerce, streaming media, and IoT automation are creating unprecedented demand for data center capacity, and building a Tier IV, 100-megawatt campus in a year or two is not science fiction. But, as great as the requirements may be, the challenges to meeting them can be even greater.
With interest rates, labor shortages, supply chain disruption, environmental regulations, and MEP systems complexity all increasing, data center owners, GCs, and MEPs are facing the urgent need for fundamental changes to how construction has been done for decades.
Digitize or Dream
Digital design is nothing new; CAD replaced the drawing board long ago. However, construction planning and work management need to catch up. Every morning, in trailers on data center construction sites around the world, superintendents and managers crowd around whiteboards full of sticky notes to check on yesterday’s work and plan today’s. Then, armed only with clipboards and spreadsheets, they scramble for a daily battle against chaos and delay, with trucks and equipment lining up at the gate and idled trade crews waiting for others to finish their work.
Meanwhile, in offices far away, owners, contractor executives, and operations managers wait for phone calls, emails, and reports from the front, always hoping for the best, often dreading the worst, and always thinking there must be a better way. In their pockets are smartphones, giving them real-time access to world news, local weather, and every kind of learning and entertainment imaginable. But on their desks sit piles of paper. On their PC screens, they can see, in detail, what happened in the past and what must be done in the future, but very little about the present. “What about now?” remains an unanswered question.
For those harried managers and workers on the site and apprehensive executives in the back office, real-time, available anywhere, digital planning, collaboration, and work management for data center construction is the dream. But for hyperscaler and leading colo owners, as well as the most successful general and specialty contractors, it is already a reality. Solutions do exist.
Touchplan, for Example
More than a third of the 50 largest data center owners and more than half of the 25 largest data center contractors have used the Touchplan platform from MOCA Systems, Inc. to transform analog chaos into digital calm. Touchplan provides:
- a unified, detailed, real-time view of project resources, commitments, and outcomes
- an easy-to-use, cloud-based platform that could be accessed by everyone from everywhere
- easy to understand analytics, insights, and reporting for project progress, issues, and outcomes
They had a choice of many other solutions but found that most were just tools built for owners or contractors and not for both. Data center construction demands early and continuous alignment between owners and contractors, which requires a common data environment (CDE) providing a single, real-time version of the truth and straightforward analytical insights into project requirements, conditions, and expectations. And they found that Touchplan delivers that and more. Here’s how.
No More Trade Stacking
As much as 70% of the cost of building a data center goes to the work of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing contractors implementing large, very complex systems for power, cooling, security, and fire prevention, and traditional trade stacking can lead to safety risks and costly delays.
Touchplan enables the effective scheduling of materials, equipment, and labor, allowing the easy staging and management of the most complicated trade workflows.
Avoiding and Managing Rework
With large data center projects’ high complexity and fast pace, rework can be especially costly for correcting mistakes and accommodating necessary design changes. Rework often stems from trade contractors starting work before they should or from the unexpected schedule and design changes dictated by changing requirements.
Touchplan transparently integrates the master schedule with workflows as they happen and provides instant notification of dependencies and conflicts, enabling optimum job sequencing and preventing the need for corrective rework. When design changes make rework unavoidable, Touchplan allows new tasks to be defined and scheduled so that they don’t interrupt or delay other work in progress.
From design to construction to commissioning to handover, data center construction demands that owners, general contractors, and trade subcontractors work closely as a team. The discreet, opaque, and often adversarial relationships between project participants found in traditional construction can cause costly conflicts and delays. When everyone tries to work together, if owners and contractors use different software products with different data formats and can’t communicate, real-time collaboration is impossible.
No matter how powerful, software is only as good as the user experience it provides. In complex construction projects involving numerous, highly autonomous parties, collaboration software that is hard to use simply won’t be used. Owners can’t easily dictate software choices to general contractors nor GCs to MEPs. Everyone must see the value of the software for themselves, and to do that, they have to try it out. A construction planning platform is not a simple, single-purpose app that can be tested during one’s lunch hour.
Touchplan is the easiest software to learn and use, but it also comes with an award-winning customer success team that gets every user up and running fast and is only thirty seconds away to help with any question or problem.
Not Just for Greenfields
There are nearly 10,000 data center sites already in existence around the world, and, for many of their owners, renovation can substantially increase profitability through increased revenue per square foot and reduced cooling power costs. At the same time, server systems are increasing in power and shrinking in size, enabling more servers and tenants to occupy existing data center space. And newer, water-based cooling systems require substantially lower energy expenses than the currently more common air cooling systems. But relocating servers and upgrading cooling systems mean server downtime, and Gartner calculates the average cost of downtime to data center tenants to be $5,600 per minute!
Because of that, as fast as greenfield projects must go, brownfield renovation must go even faster. Touchplan’s real-time planning, tracking, and notification capabilities can dramatically limit the necessary downtime of renovation projects.
What Can Touchplan Do for You?
Touchplan is the result of more than a decade of software innovation and has been used by nearly 70,000 users in more than 6,000 companies around the world. It is battle-tested and battle-ready for assuring success in large, complex data center projects.
If you are a data center owner, operator, general contractor, or specialty contractor approaching a greenfield opportunity, a tricky renovation, or a big project gone wrong, Touchplan is here to help. Please visit us at Touchplan.io and tell us what we can do for you.