ERS Industries is an established SME that manufactures electronic equipment racks for use in data centres. Over the last 15 years, it has grown by building on its strength in product design, manufacturing and good customer relationships. Despite its success, it is not resting on its laurels. Increasingly, data centres around the world are looking at ways to improve the efficient use of energy. To meet this emerging need for green data centres, ERS embarked on a journey to re-organise its product design and development process. It also developed a product roadmap for the next generation of energy-efficient racks. The next generation of products will help ERS to fend off competition and place the company as a leader in the market.

IPI helped ERS in analysing and identifying the technology areas critical to realizing the new product roadmap. With an understanding of the engineering capability of ERS, IPI identified and matched an expert in thermal management from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to ERS. The expert from NTU helped ERS to optimize the thermal performances of their rack. Specifically, they improved the airflow into the rack such that it is able to achieve 350% reduction in pressure drop, i.e. less resistance for cool air to enter the rack. This translates to 20% more cooling air entering the racks to reduce the heat of the electronics within. The expert not only worked closely with ERS’ engineers to develop the next generation racks, he also fine-tuned ERS’ in-house engineering capabilities, e.g. built a wind-tunnel for ERS to conduct airflow testing and improved the product roadmap. In addition, the expert put in place intellectual property (IP) processes to guide ERS in managing and protecting its IP.

To further strengthen its capability, IPI facilitated a technology sourcing and collaboration between ERS and Intraix. Intraix specializes in developing energy management software for homes and small businesses. With this collaboration, ERS’ next generation racks was incorporated with a co-developed software module that allows data centre managers to monitor power utilization and achieve better energy efficiency. This software module helps datacenter managers using ERS racks to monitor the energy utilisation not only at the rack level but also at the zonal level. It also has the capability to send out alert to managers when any abnormal energy usages or outrages are detected. Using this software, the managers can forecast demand and plan their capacity in advance. ERS has filed a patent to protect the software.

Within six months of IPI’s assistance, ERS rolled out the next generation racks in March 2013. “IPI’s technology sourcing services not only complemented our internal effort and enhanced our awareness to new technology, it also played a key role in accelerating our acquisition of new capabilities. We are now in a stronger position to compete globally as an innovation-centric company,” said Mr CK Cheong, Managing Director of ERS. He is confident that the new products would increase its sales volume over the next three years.

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