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The NEEM-112 on an equipment temperature monitor in the field
Sensor Synergy's NEEM-112 Network Enabled Equipment Monitory unit probably saved one Boston-area company significant resources and the professional reputation of the IT manager.


IT manager, Ben Wong, reviews temperature data provided by Sensor Synergy's NEEM-112

Use of a Sensor Synergy NEEM-112 prevented substantial losses at a Boston-area company which specializes in developing software for high-tech digital home entertainment management. The problem started with a sudden failure in the air conditioning (A/C) units used to cool their main computer server room. The incident began in the afternoon - around 3:30 p.m. but was not noticed until the Information Technology (IT) manager received an e-mail notification from the NEEM-112 unit around 11:00 pm. Initially, the problem was masked by other A/C units used to cool surrounding areas in the building during the normal business hours. The IT manager, Ben Wong, spent most of that afternoon in other locations and did not notice the slight rise in temperature before he left for the day.

As in many multi-tenant office buildings, after normal workday hours, the main A/C units were set back to energy saving mode. The centralized computer servers and supervisory computers are located in a separate dedicated "IT Server Room" and cooled by 2 separate air conditioning units; this IT server room contains more than 20 server computers and other computers required to operate the computer facilities. The separate AC units, which support the IT server room, are not subject to energy conservation thermostat setback procedures; the computer server room is kept cool 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Most computers use fan-forced room air directed at heat sensitive/ heat generating electronic components. The air cools these vital elements including the central processing unit integrated circuits (CPU ICs) and other high-value high-density ICs. As room air temperature rises above 100 F, fan-forced air-cooling becomes much less effective and electronic components begin to suffer near term failures. These failures can include immediate catastrophic component failures or in some instances sensors embedded into computer boards that perform software-damaging, emergency shutdowns. Typically, after experiencing elevated temperatures, component lifetime will be greatly diminished; that is, sophisticated integrated circuits rated at 10 years "mean time between failures" will begin failing in a few weeks or less.

In the situation that evolved during our test, Sensor Synergy's NEEM unit sensed, measured and recorded the temperature in the server room as it rose throughout the late afternoon and evening. Three weeks earlier, the test site manager, Ben Wong, had set up the Sensor Synergy NEEM-112 to monitor three temperature sensors in the room. If the room temperature ever exceeded 90 F, Ben configured Sensor Synergy's "Data Logger" program to send an alert e-mail message to Ben's "always on" cell phone using the cell phone text messaging feature.

At approximately 11:00 p.m., the NEEM unit alerted the Data Logger that the threshold had been exceeded. The Data Logger sent an e-mail to Ben Wong at his home and alerted him to the fact that his computer room temperature sensors were reading 90F. The NEEM enabled Ben to log on to the network connected to the NEEM unit and monitor the temperature rise from his home. Ben called the physical plant emergency repair services for his office building, but no one was available to fix the problem until early the next morning His company's facilities are located in a multi-tenant office complex in which various out-of-hours services are available to the 50+ tenants in their 6-story office building; their building is one building in a much larger office complex.

Although the A/C repair crew was not able to respond immediately to the failure, Ben was able to monitor the status of the server room and, if needed, Ben could have returned to his office in the early morning hours and manually shut down all equipment in the server room. The NEEM gave Ben the opportunity to continuously monitor the situation in the server room and perform an on-going assessment of the need for manual intervention.

At 6:00 a.m. the emergency A/C repair crew initiated their repairs, which turned out to be a power failure that affected the A/C units, but not the IT computers. . Measurements provided by the NEEM-112 unit, indicated that the server room temperature continued to increase to 97 F during the hours between initial notification and the successful repair of the air conditioning unit. With power back on, the A/C units quickly brought the temperature back down. All was well by the time Ben arrived at work a short while later.

The notification from the Sensor Synergy's NEEM unit provided the facility's IT manager with enough advance notice to perform graceful power-down operations if needed without incurring serious damage to the server computers. In this instance, repairs were completed before system shutdown was required and no catastrophic equipment failures occurred.

Without the NEEM unit, the IT manager may not have noticed the problem until he arrived at work the next morning at 9 a.m. Without the warning from the NEEM-112 unit, it may have been too late to save the computers, resulting in very costly damaged equipment, and financial losses associated with lost productivity from 20+ software developers and managers. Finally, Ben's professional reputation as an IT department manager may have been seriously damaged had he not exercised the foresight to install a remote monitor and alert system. Instead, because he used Sensor Synergy's NEEM unit, Ben Wong is a bit of an IT hero and Sensor Synergy's NEEM product appears to be exceptionally cost-effective monitoring system.

The graph below shows the actual data recorded by the NEEM unit in the computer room during this AC failure event.

Sensor Synergy staff can provide additional details about this test as needed (847-353-8200).
Ben Wong can be contacted by phone at 617-939-4628 or at bwong1001@gmail.com.

 

 
 

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