Acxiom is a database marketing company with locations across the globe, and like many of today’s data center operators, the company faced an increasingly common dilemma: the need to upgrade existing power infrastructure within critical facilities without halting operations.

An additional challenge for Acxiom and other data centers is insufficient space to install new equipment without first physically removing the old systems. That’s why Acxiom has relied on renting temporary mobile power trailers designed by a pair of Eaton agents.

“We don’t have enough room to install a new UPS system and transfer the existing load to it,” explained Jim Thompson, Acxiom’s facility engineer and senior team lead, critical facilities. “When we first started looking at replacing our UPS systems, the greatest challenge was how we could perform the required work with the least impact to our clients. Our biggest hurdle was how to keep the IT load supported during the project and not cause any downtime.”

 That task was especially critical recently, as Acxiom prepared to replace all of its Eaton® 9315 UPSs across eight data center buildings at the company’s Conway, Arkansas, facility. The six-month-long process required a reliable UPS that could support Acxiom’s capacity and uptime requirements when the 9315 units were removed.

SolutionRolling was a brand-new, completely customized mobile Eaton UPS trailer. The self-contained UPS-system-on-wheels was specially constructed to support critical infrastructure facilities during upgrades or disaster recovery efforts.

“This system allows Acxiom to maintain business continuity during their entire upgrade process,” said Martin Bosch, president, Air Power Consultants, who co-owns the trailers with partner Marc Basche, director, critical infrastructure equipment division, Global Power Supply. The two reps custom-built the solution from the ground up with data center upgrades in mind.

The 52-foot-long mobile trailer integrates a complete lineup of state-of-the-art equipment, including a 1,200-kW Eaton Power Xpert 9395 High Performance UPS, Eaton PredictPulse Insight monitoring software, Eaton automatic transfer switches and switchgear, battery cabinets from LiiON, and Marvair HVAC.

This mobile unit is available at a capacity of 1,200 kW, making it among the first solutions of its kind to offer lithium-powered batteries.

“Nobody else is using it, but it’s a huge benefit,” said Basche. “Not only does lithium-ion increase reliability, but the dramatically lower weight of the batteries make the trailer highly transportable.”

In fact, the mobile station’s six battery cabinets weigh in at just 7,200 pounds — more than five times less than the 40,000-pound lead-acid alternative.

Another differentiator in the new trailers is the addition of the 9395 High Performance UPS, which provides double-conversion efficiency of up to 97% and boasts redundant modules built into the system.

“Competitive UPSs don’t offer inherent redundancy,” said Bosch.

Furthermore, the 9395 is certified to perform with the LiiON-brand lithium-ion battery cabinets, which Bosch insists is a huge advantage.

“Everything works together seamlessly,” he said. That includes PredictPulse Insight next-level monitoring and management service. Shifting power monitoring from a reactive to a proactive model, PredictPulse Insight collects and analyzes data from connected power infrastructure devices, providing Eaton with the insight needed to make recommendations and take any necessary action on behalf of the customer. A cloud-based analytics service for data center infrastructure that’s designed to foresee the failure of power components, PredictPulse Insight provides real-time status information. With the service running via a wireless modem on the trailer during the upgrade project, Acxiom is relying on it as a backup alarm system in conjunction with its own internal system. 

The wireless modem also allows PredictPulse Insight to run without ever connecting to the client’s secure network, which eliminates possible user security concerns. Eaton automatic transfer switches and switchgear round out the solution, which has been attracting attention from data center operators coast to coast. In fact, both trailers are already booked out well into next year.

“There are so many customers with legacy equipment who want to take advantage of newer technology, such as higher efficiency UPSs with greater reliability, but they don’t have the luxury of shutting down operations for three months,” Bosch said. “They don’t even want to shut down for three hours. So, we started making these trailers 12 years ago with the goal of providing a tool that customers can use to complete an upgrade and maintain business continuity in the process.”

The first unit, built in 2006 and just recently retired, was actually assembled inside a huge shipping container with an Eaton 9315 UPS. Bosch and Basche then constructed four mobile UPS stations by modifying semitrailers, which are still in operation. Then, in 2017, the pair seized all the knowledge they had gained over the years, combined with the latest technological advancements, and simultaneously custom-built two 1,200-kW trailers from the ground up. The trailers even have the capacity to be paralleled together if a customer chooses.

 “The Eaton trailer has allowed us to keep the IT load supported during the project and prevented our clients from experiencing any downtime or loss of production,” Thompson said.

As Acxiom continues to replace the UPSs in its Conway data center, Thompson credits the Eaton trailer for a completely smooth transition, noting that the company has experienced zero downtime, loss of production, or broken service level agreements (SLAs) for clients.