Shifting ‘vibration isolation’ technology from table tops to data centers

Shifting ‘vibration isolation’ technology from table tops to data centers

Talk about a specialized niche. WorkSafe Technologies, of St. Charles, MO, produces devices and contraptions that are intended to isolate natural vibrations in the Earth and protect equipment and property that might otherwise be damaged or destroyed by such vibrations.

WorkSafe for decades has built tabletops and carts — they prefer to call them “platforms” — on which sensitive or valuable instruments and equipment can be placed, and safeguarded, even when the ground beneath them begins to shake violently.

For instance, when the ground beneath a census office building in New Zealand vibrated during an earthquake, recalled WorkSafe’s Mike Reilly, the equipment sitting on his company’s platforms survived nicely. “Everything on our base was intact,” Reilly told Government Security News at the GovSec security show in Washington, DC, on May 14. “Everything else was destroyed.”

Similarly, when a 9.0 earthquake struck Nigata, Japan, houses, offices and property sustained major damage. “But, everything we had survived,” Reilly bragged. “In fact, in Japan, we’ve become the de facto standard.”

For decades, WorkSafe has been manufacturing relatively small platforms. Now, it has set its sights on bigger installations, and a far bigger overall market. The company is now trying to bring its vibration isolation technology to the booming world of data centers. Rather than allow an earthquake or other natural disaster to roll through a data center and shock rows and rows of server racks that each house terra bytes of precious data, WorkStation is morphing its platform version into a system of isolators that can be installed beneath the floor of a data center, and effectively prevent vibrations from disturbing the computer equipment.

Reilly told GSN that his company currently is running a Beta site for this technology in California.

The isolation technology is remarkably simple. Essentially, it consists of a series of round ball bearings that are placed in a cone-shaped container, such that the balls naturally roll towards the depressed center of the container. During an earthquake-inspired vibration, the platform sitting on top of the ball bearings is effectively isolated from the vibrations by the rapid and smooth re-positioning of the ball bearings. Miraculously, the equipment sitting on top of the platform is safeguarded.

Currently, WorkSafe has completed about 80,000 installations, said Reilly, mostly of its “platform” product. Time will tell whether the company can introduce its concept into the data center world, and receive an equally warm welcome.


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