Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC) is a worldwide financial institution, headquartered in Japan, which offers online cash management services, including funds transfer and controlled disbursement, as well as specialized services and expertise in project, public, real estate and international trade and structured financing. The company has six branches in North America; 11 branches in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; 26 offices throughout Asia; and more than 400 branches in Japan.
Sumitomo decided to replace the backup power generation system that feeds its main-frame uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) in its 100,000-square-foot location in Jersey City, N.J., which houses the company’s main data center for all its branches. The location is also used as a data center for a number of the bank’s clients in the financial industry.
Kleinknecht Electric Co. Inc., New York, has worked with SMBC for close to two decades and is on the company’s short list of prequalified bidders. SMBC considers Kleinknecht its preferred contractor.
“We have performed work on various interior fit-out projects and electrical installations at the same location,” said Mark Kleinknecht, president of Kleinknecht Electric N.J. Inc. “We have performed work on generator installation projects for decades and have previously provided backup power systems for Sumitomo, Goldman Sachs and the Bank of Tokyo at multiple locations.”
In addition, Kleinknecht Electric has worked with EJA International, the project’s construction manager, and SKAE Power Solutions, the general contractor, for about five years on similar generator and UPS installations in the financial and commercial markets.
After Sumitomo’s team requested a bid in November 2005, Kleinknecht Electric worked with the client to clarify the scope of work and the installation requirements and was awarded the contract two weeks later.
“We were awarded this particular generator installation contract based on the value we offered the customer and our long-term relationship,” Kleinknecht said.
Scope of work
The $1.5 million project included $300,000 for Kleinknecht Electric to install two Caterpillar 480/277 volt, three-phase, four-wire, 60 hertz, 1,800 rpm generators to feed the facility’s main-frame UPS system. An average of five electricians, and a peak of eight, began work in late December 2005, and they completed their task in less than two months.
The first step, of course, was working with the structural engineer to evaluate the capacity of the roof structure and design modifications to the existing dunnage to ensure that it would support the weight of the new generators. Kleinknecht Electric then had to plan exactly how the two generators would be dismantled and the new ones installed without a moment lost power. At least one backup power system had to be available to the UPS.
“As the primary backup data center for the entire organization, Sumitomo could not afford even a second without a secure power source in case of a utility outage,” said Tony Viviani, Kleinknecht project manager.
The company decided the best way to go about the process was to isolate one of the existing generators from the system and then to install both of the two new generators at the same time, allowing the other existing generator to remain online.
The installation meant setting the generators in place and then running new 3-inch conduit, which would house the necessary metal-clad cable, from the existing power feeders to the new junction boxes and then to each generator. Fuel oil piping, fire detectors and 120-volt power wiring also had to be run to the new generators.
The generators were connected to the UPS system by the paralleling switchboards and then through the distribution system.
“The UPS system is designed to automatically switch to generator power in case of an outage and avoid any loss power to the building’s sensitive electronic equipment and any loss of data,” said Richie Haines, foreman.
The final three steps of the project included removing the second existing generator from the system after the installation was complete, removing the old controls and installing the new digital system, and testing and programming the generator alarm functions.
“The digital controls were prefabricated in a single unit and were ready for quick installation into the paralleling switchboards and integration into the existing control cabling,” Viviani said.
The old generators were shut down and abandoned in place, with all existing wiring and conduit no longer in use removed to its source. Kleinknecht electricians finally tested the operation of the generators to ensure that all voltage regulation, load control, load sharing and paralleling functions operated properly.
Extreme weather presented an obstacle for the construction team to overcome. It was winter in New York and work took place on the roof of a midrise building.
“The generators were in self-contained housings, and the staff had to work out in the open,” said Haines. The company erected warming tents, provided portable heaters and scheduled frequent breaks so the electricians could get out of the cold and wind.
Another challenge was ensuring that one generator was operational at all times. The team pretested controls before installation to ensure they would work when the switchover occurred and closely coordinated all activity to ensure that everyone on the job had a clear understanding of the steps involved in the installation.
“We had to ensure that no vital links were disengaged that would sever the working generator’s connection to the UPS system,” Viviani said.
In addition, because the data center was operational throughout the project, work could only take place during off-hours, which required significant planning and coordination among all members of the project team.
Planning and coordination were also necessary because the work was scheduled to be completed in six weeks. Even the installation of the new controls were stepped up and installed in just six days.
“The tight construction schedule meant relying on the long-term relationships of all the companies involved and the field personnel’s knowledge, expertise and good working relationships to determine the installation schedules and to monitor construction progress,” Kleinknecht said. EC
BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.