Prefabricated Modular Rooms Can Be Game-Changers For Critical Infrastructure – But You Need To Know What You’re Doing

From Hanley Energy, June 5, 2020

They’re more cost-effective, environmentally friendly and efficient. So how can you get the most out of a modular approach to data centre construction?

Using a modular data room means you will have a cost-effective, state-of-the-art, future-proofed solution to your critical infrastructure needs.

Move towards modular

The modular data room is built offsite and tested in the factory so that it’s ready to go immediately on delivery. It encompasses all of what Hanley Energy calls general services – the mechanical and electrical services, as well as elements such as the cooling, humidity control, ventilation, access control and fire protection requirements.

Hanley Energy also produces a second version – a modular power room, which houses the large electrical plant components such as the UPS (uninterrupted power supply), switchgear and battery system.

Modular or prefabricated solutions, and the rapid deployment they bring to projects, are not a new concept to industry, but they are relatively new to the world of data centres. Data Centre clients are now seeking expert advice, and turnkey fulfilment capabilities within specialist integrators to leverage the benefits of Modular or prefabricated solutions, in the ever evolving environment of the data centre.

Consultation is key

The process starts with an in-depth consultation with the client, then Hanley Energy’s team of experts designs, builds, tests and delivers a turnkey modular data centre, tailored for the client’s specific requirements.

Hanley Energy offers world-class expertise across all the relevant disciplines – mechanical, electrical and structural – to design and produce exactly what the customer needs.

“The most important point is the initial consultation with the customer and getting inside their head to find out what they want,” says Bernard O’Reilly, Technical Sales Manager.

“We meet with the customer and get as much insight as possible into where they are at the moment, where they think they want to go, and then we help point them in the direction of where they should go. Then we start looking at the design and how we turn that into a reality.”

A controlled environment

A modular data centre offers much more control over a project, meaning it can be completed more efficiently, with fewer problems and delays, whilst offering tangible savings in time and cost.

The modular data centre is built in Hanley Energy’s state-of-the-art facility using an accelerated production method coupled with five ISO standards.

“The factory is a controlled environment,” says Bernard, “so we can control the supply chain, the amount of labour, the quality of labour – every aspect of the build is controllable in a factory situation.

“By leveraging the controlled environment, we can effectively develop efficiencies by introducing lean manufacturing and processes that all lead to an overall cost saving. We can maximise every hour of production.”

Parallel project

Because the modular data centre is built offsite, it can go into production straight away, even while the site itself is still being readied, saving time – and it also makes for a simpler and more efficient handover process onsite.

“Once the site is ready, and our pre-fabricated unit is ready, that’s when the two elements merge,” says Bernard. “It means that from the siteworks point of view, there’s no crossover, there’s not too many trades onsite – so we can actually approach site in a very controlled manner with a defined programme for the final site works / commissioning, resulting in quicker deployments.”

Fewer setbacks, smaller footprint

Because of the greater control from offsite production, there are fewer delays, bottlenecks and site-related setbacks to overcome.

“With a traditional build, you can have delays with transport, traffic, even weather,” says Bernard. “Numerous aspects like that are mitigated against.”

And because the process is more efficient, it’s more environmentally friendly.

“We reduce labour time and reduce transport, we’re reducing everything – and in turn we are reducing our carbon footprint,” says Bernard.

All the equipment selected for the fitouts is the most energy-efficient available at the time of manufacture and Hanley Energy constantly reviews the equipment it uses to ensure the best fit for clients.


Another benefit of the modular data centre is future-proofing – it is constructed with evolution and expansion in mind.

“Once we fully understand what the customer’s requirement is, we get an insight into where they want to take it in the future,” says Bernard. “There are various different ways we can approach that. We can build in aspects that will allow the system to scale. We can expand it or add to it, or we can add replicas so we can have multiples of one solution on one site.”

Some customers opt for a modular data centre to get up and running immediately while they build a bricks-and-mortar data centre for the longer term. So, the modular solution is their starting point, which can then be added to as their project moves forward. Other customers decide to build the entire site as modular.

“It depends on the customer’s needs, their overall plan or strategy, the timeline or deadline they have to manage,” says Bernard. “There are various factors at play throughout a build, and we consider all those things in our solution.”

A best-in-class approach

Hanley Energy is a proven leader in the design, construction and delivery of modular data centres – thanks to the world-class expertise it offers across various disciplines in the formulation of solutions.

“Other companies have similar skill sets, but we do it better than everybody else, we combine engineering design with equal quantities of build and delivery experience.” says Bernard.

“There are other companies providing similar solutions but they’re from a different background or a different industry. At Hanley Energy, we focus on the critical power infrastructure and the data centre industry, it’s a space we operate in every day.

“There’s a lot of different things that happen in a solution build, and a lot of fine detail that’s taken care of in the background. All our modular solutions are fully compliant with the relevant building controls and health & safety legislation for the country in which the solution will be deployed. Every aspects of each piece of equipment is assessed and positioned to ensure adequate space is provided for operators and routine maintenance, while optimising the internal layouts to keep the modular solutions overall footprint to a minimum. We make it look easy. Overall, when you look at the concept it seems fairly straightforward, but there are real design and engineering pitfalls lurking for ill-advised clients” he says.

“Everybody in Hanley Energy has a wealth of experience in different engineering disciplines, and when we combine all this knowledge we just have an unstoppable, and hard to match team. We’re able to get into the customer’s head and understand their needs, we know what they want, we know what will work for them – and we provide real value by advising them on the best option to ensure they get to where they need to be as quickly as possible.”

By offering time, focus, methodology and skills, backed by real-world experience Hanley Energy can meet and has met the needs of the most challenging clients and modular projects.