Mission critical projects have, for a long time, been a significant source of revenue for contractors. Many of the top general contractors in the world market their specific ability and expertise in building mission critical-projects.

Mission critical is a term given to facilities that require perfect uptime every hour of every day – airports, data centers, hospitals, etc. – and these projects require a "mission critical mindset" from the contractors awarded the opportunity to build them. They understand the client’s needs, they’ve built hundreds of mission critical projects, and they are always looking ahead of the curve to evaluate and implement technology that will lead to successful outcomes.

Staying ahead is crucial for contractors and asset owners involved in mission critical construction as the demand for these types of projects – specifically data centers – has been and will continue to increase. 

Why Mission Critical?

Managing a data center project requires intricate design and meticulous planning to ensure that everything is built to plan, on schedule, and within the budget. Delays in getting data centers online on time can cost up to thousands of dollars each day, with experts estimating an average cost of $5,600 per minute of downtime.

The data centers that we are building today are megaprojects. They are multistory structures consisting of thousands of servers and storage units. Ask anyone who has worked on a data center project and they will tell you that it’s one of the most complex projects to build. Data centers are massive structures with evolving and increasing demands being placed on them.

Demand for data centers is arguably at an all time high, and rising. Demand for data centers in the US alone is forecasted to grow by 10% a year until 2030.

“A new computing era has begun. Companies worldwide are transitioning from general-purpose to accelerated computing and generative AI," said Jensen Huang, Nvidia founder and CEO.  

We are living in a time where everyone relies on technology – and the computing power required to support it – in order to live and work. Our demand on technology appears to be growing exponentially, and that growth will require us to build more and more data centers and other infrastructure required to sate the demand for connectivity and online collaboration.

Using Technology to Keep Up With Demand

The new computing era we find ourselves in is driving extremely high demand for data centers; whether it is a greenfield project or a retrofit of existing facilities. These are complex structures to design and build.

We’re seeing the adoption of augmented reality (AR) technology among construction teams and asset owners of large, complex projects. The budgets attached to each project are in the multimillion to billion dollar range, they have tighter schedules due to the importance of each facility's operational functions, and they require coordination between hundreds of trade partners.

The construction industry is still quite to reliant on 2D drawings to build three-dimensional structures, and the reliance has negatively impacted project budgets and schedules. Despite the fact that millions of dollars are invested into the creation of a 3D model to coordinate the preconstruction phase of data centers, there’s a sizable gap between getting 3D models into the hands of the builders. Moving away from a reliance on 2D drawings and towards a future where accuracy is everything is our goal at XYZ Reality.

While working on a hyperscale data center project, the team at Georg Fischer was able to bring the site concept to its fabrication facility through the use of augmented reality technology. This allowed GF to fabricate the data center’s plant rooms to their exact specifications, show the work to their client, and have complete confidence that the work was done right before shipping it out to the site to be installed. 

At a time when demand for mission critical construction is so high, the builders and asset owners that truly innovate will differentiate themselves from the rest and emerge as leaders within the construction industry.

Steve Jobs said “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” This will permeate the industry and allow other companies to take advantage of the work of an innovator by adopting the technologies and processes they have proven to work.

The largest developers of data centers have implemented XYZ's augmented reality approach to collaboration on projects valued at over $9.5 billion in total. 

As data continues to play a pivotal role in the digital age, the construction of data centers and other mission critical projects will remain a challenging yet vital endeavor to support the world's evolving technological landscape.

The technology adopted by innovative builders and owners during this current moment in time will push the construction industry forward.

David Mitchell is founder and CEO of XYZ Reality, an augmented reality construction collaboration and coordination tool