Keeping India’s Booming IT industry Waterproof

Ishita Manjrekar, Sr. Associate, Sunanda Speciality Coatings Pvt. Ltd. Mumbai.

Overview

The Information Technology industry in India has increased its contribution to India's GDP from 6.1% in 2009-10 to 6.4% in 2010-11. According to NASSCOM, the IT–BPO sector in India aggregated revenues was of $88.1 billion or Rs.4.4 lakh crores in FY2011.

The combination of several factors, makes India an attractive country for foreign investors and in particular for a foreign investment for internet based businesses. India is the 5th largest economy in the world-ranking above France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Russia, and has the 3rd largest GDP in the entire continent of Asia. It is also the 2nd largest among emerging nations, based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).

India's position between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal makes it the crossroads for access between Africa, the Middle East, and the rest of Asia. India's large market, growing economy and progressive government initiatives to foster IT and telecommunications growth, and significant access to global networks, makes it ripe for continued growth and represents an excellent risk reward profile for internet businesses.

Mumbai in particular is the largest urban center in India, it is at the heart of Indian commerce and the seat of its largest corporations, Mumbai offers one of the most robust telecommuni- cations infrastructures within the country and has ample access to a variety of worldwide and regional submarine fiber optic cable systems. In addition, Mumbai has a large presence of multinational companies such as- Kodak, Heinz, Monsanto, Warner Bros, FedEx, Bank of America, Bankers Trust, Parke Davis, Intel, JP Morgan Chase, Kellogg, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, AIG, Exxon-Mobil, Delta, Siemens, Roche, Bayer, BASF, Philips, BP, and many more.

India, and Mumbai in particular has become a primary destination for offshore outsourcing as foreign companies seek to increase the efficiency of their various operations through India's IT-BPO expertise. An increasing number of banks, brokerages, financial houses, internet companies, manufacturing companies etc are choosing to co-locate their IT infrastructure especially data centers in India.
IT Industry Waterproof
Figure 1: Typical failures observed in pre-formed membrane waterproofing systems - Debonding, leakages at joint and overlaps

IT operations are a crucial aspect of most organizational operations. One of the main concerns of all these businesses is business continuity. This means that companies rely on their information systems to run their operations. If a system becomes unavailable, company operations may be impaired or stopped completely. For example a data center of a large bank or hospital going down for even a few seconds may cause disruptions and have a ripple effect of mammoth proportions due to the interconnected nature of business activities in the 21st century.

It is therefore necessary for the Indian IT industry to provide their clients with an assurance of reliable infrastructure for IT operations, in order to minimize any chance of disruption.

IT Industry Waterproof
Figure 2: Edelweiss Financial Services, Mumbai
Suffice it to say that the buildings that house these data centers have "zero tolerance" for leakages and dampness given the criticality of the equipment they contain. India's four month long annual monsoon rains do little to help the situation and given these factors adopting conventional waterproofing methods, materials, technologies and specifications have lead to disastrous consequences.

Consequently, based on identifying this acute pain point of the IT industry based on interactions and problem solving with numerous large data center companies, the Concrete Materials Consultancy Division has developed a specialized set of specifications and developed a high performance, user-friendly, specialized liquid applied, moisture cured, high strength and highly elasticity, modified polyurethane membrane, FLEXIROOF PU specifically for the IT industry which ensures a 100% leak proof data center. This is used in conjunction with a state of the art vapour barrier system of SUNEPISEAL and SUNEPITOP.

IT Industry Waterproof
Figure 3: Edelweiss House, Mumbai
This system has been successfully executed at a number of large data center projects, three of which will be presented as case studies in this article. We will first outline the nature of the problem faced at each of the three job sites and then go on to present a general scheme which has been successfully implemented by Sunanda's Concrete Materials Consultancy Division to neutralize the waterproofing problems, classified as an acute pain area faced by the Indian IT industry.

Case Study I - Edelweiss/IBM

Description of the Problem

In 2008, Edelweiss, one of India's leading financial service companies struck the highest deal in real estate by purchasing a 3 basement, G + 14 stored RCC building for approximately 250 crores with a built up area of 2 lakh sq. ft. to house their corporate office. As part of their IT infrastructure, this building was also going to house Edelweiss's main server room, battery room, electrical room and the UPS. The entire IT infrastructure for Edelweiss's operation was designed, built and maintained by IBM.

IT Industry Waterproof
Figure 4: GPX Global Systems, Boomerang, Mumbai
The structure consisted of RCC columns and PT slabs. In order to provide external glazing to the structure, extended cantilevers were casted along the entire periphery of the bldg. During June 2010 monsoon, rain water seeped in through these extended cantilever portions which resulted in leakages in the server room and UPS area. It was also found that the existing PT slabs were porous resulting in passage of water through the entire slab. This resulted in shut down of the main frame thereby hampering entire trading activities of the company. Due to this major break down, the clients demanded full proof waterproof system to ensure business continuity.

The clients approached Sunanda's Concrete Materials Consultancy Division, based on our exemplary track record of delivering results. This site was especially complicated since the slab was post tensioned and hence it was impossible to grout it. Consequently, the selection of waterproofing system, design, implementation of a fool proof waterproofing specification and on-job quality assurance assume paramount importance.

IT Industry Waterproof
Figure 5: Harvard Business School, Taj Lands' End Campus

Post a detailed inspection, identification of weak spots, the custom methodology was recommended, approved and executed in a record time of 45 days.

Case Study II - GPX Global Systems

Description of the Problem

IT Industry Waterproof
Figure 6: Unanticipated Expansion Joint 5 cm wide on the Terrace above HBS
GPX Global Systems builds and operatesprivate, carrier neutral Internet Exchanges (IX's) and Internet Data Centers (IDC's)in emerging, commercial markets. The company offers a world class, carrier neutral collocation infrastructure and environment to clients seeking to broaden their exposure and growth into new lucrative emerging global markets. GPX operates datacenters for many Global 2000 Enterprise and Carrier clients, including Citigroup, JP Morgan, Exxon Mobil, ABM Amro, Microsoft, eBay, AOL, Google, Sprint, MCI, SBC, Deutsche Telecom, France Telecom and many others.

One of GPX's three gateway hubs is present in Mumbai. This hub is used by GPX's global clients and business continuity is their chief concern. GPX Indian facility is an energy efficient, green building certified by LEED and was winner of the 2010 CRISIL-CREDAI Real Estate Award for 'Most Innovative Building Design.'

The structure "Boomerang," a 1.2 million sqft complex at Chandivali Farm Road in Mumbai, the country's largest single project floor plate for commercial utility.

The clients approached Sunanda's Concrete Materials Consultancy Division, to provide a guaranteed and waterproof structure for housing their critical servers and associated IT infrastructure. This site was especially complicated due to the large floor plate of 40,000 square feet.

Initial pond test uncovered a large number of leakages in the slab which were immediate points of concern for the clients whose topmost business priority was "continuous operations with zero unplanned downtime."

A step by step analysis was carried out by Sunanda's Concrete Materials consultancy Division, presented to the clients, approved by their International Consultants, Archway Global Systems as well as their domestic consultants, Exigo International.

Case Study III– Harvard Business School/Taj Lands' End

Description of the Problem

IT Industry Waterproof
Figure 7: Surface Preparation and cleaning using air suction device
Harvard Business School (HBS) has recently launched a new amphitheater-style classroom, built and owned by the Taj Lands End, owned by the Indian Hotels Limited. This new space replicates the classrooms on the School's Boston campus, giving participants and students a true Harvard Business School case method learning experience, for the first time in India.

The Harvard Business School Campus at Taj Lands End was inaugurated by Mr. Ratan Tata himself in early March 2012.

The new HBS campus with a seating capacity of up to 82 students, will offer state-of-the-art multimedia facilities that augment the educational experience of the students. The room, a first of its kind in India, is virtually indistinguishable from the MBA classrooms in Boston in terms of aesthetics as well as technology, IT infrastructure, telecommunication equipment and connectivity to Harvard Business School's campuses all over the world. All together, the IT infrastructure and communications equipment is worth a cool 50 million US dollars. An obvious requirement was a state of the art fool proof waterproofing system that would guarantee continuous connectivity to HBS's campuses worldwide and ensure zero downtime.

The site chosen was underneath an exposed terrace about 14 years old. The project was undertaken in the monsoon of 2011 and the entire slab was leaking in multiple places with water gushing in through a variety of cracks, cutouts for pipes and a host of other imperfections in the old slab.

Upon removing the top IPS layer, an exceptionally large expansion joint about 5 cm wide was uncovered. The architect, as well as the clients were caught completely unaware and the leakages as well as the unanticipated expansion joints was threatening the feasibility of the site as well as the project completion deadline.

General Methodology Used

Surface Preparation
  1. Remove all the existing layers of filing on the RCC slab and expose the RCC slab.
  2. Clean the RCC surface of all loose particles, dust, cement laitance etc. Surface preparation is of prime importance as the degree of performance of the coating is directly proportional to the extent of cleaning.
  3. After proper cleaning, Identify the construction joints, cracks, honeycombed areas etc. on the RCC surface and fill the cracks on the RCC surface using Polymer Modified rich mortar prepared by using POLYALK EP.
  4. Apply a low viscosity crystalline surface penetrator sealant- SUNFLOOR METALLIN over the cast in situ slabs in three coats.
  5. Allow the material to penetrate into the slab for sealing the RCC pores.
IT Industry Waterproof IT Industry Waterproof
Figure 8: Application of Flexiroof PU – liquid applied, moisture cured, elastomeric, modified polyurethane membrane Figure 9: Schematic Representation of General Treatment Methodology

Waterproofing System

  1. Provide and apply a primer coat of FLEXIROOF –PU PRIMER on the cleaned RCC slab surface using a soft paint brush. Shake the container well and directly apply the primer by brush. Allow to set for 30-45 minutes depending on the ambient temperature.
  2. After the primer has totally cured and dried, apply FLEXIROOF-PU by brush, roller or airless spray equipment. Apply at a rate of 1kg/sqm for the first coat evenly over the primer surface and allow to cure for 12-24 hours.
  3. Extend the coating on the sides of the walls and aluminum glazing frames up to 300mm.
  4. After ensuring that the first coat is set and cured, apply the second coat in similar manner at a rate of 0.5 kg/sqm and allow to cure.
  5. While the second coat has reasonably hardened but still wet and tacky on surface (say after 12 hours), sprinkle sand over the surface to make it rough so as to provide mechanical key for the protective screed.
  6. Allow the two coats of FLEXIROOF-PU to dry for 2-3 days before proceeding with the protective screed.
  7. Lay the protective screed over the same in CM 1:4 in average thickness of 10-12mm and cure the same.
  8. Admix one pouch of anti-shrinkage admixture- SUNPLEX (330gms pouch) per 50Kg bag of cement in the protective screed mortar.
  9. Provide IPS over the protective screed in required thickness and slope.

Vapour Barrier Coating

  1. Clean the surface using air blowers BUT ensure that surface is DRY.
  2. Mix SUNEPISEAL primer in a plastic container in the ratio 4 part of Part-A and 1 parts of Part-B using a low speed air driven stirrer. Mix uniformly to form a brushable consistency.
  3. Apply this as a priming coat of SUNEPISEAL 478 coating over the cleaned dry surface using paint brush and allow to dry.
  4. After the primer has dried apply two coats of SUNEPITOP by mixing in a plastic container in the ratio 4 part of Part-A and 1 part of Part-B using a low speed air driven stirrer. Mix uniformly to form a brushable consistency.
  5. Apply this coating at 24 hours interval between each coat.
  6. Extend the entire application up to 1.0 meter over the side walls and aluminum frame.
  7. Do not allow foot traffic for next 48-72 hours till full cured.
Ms. Ishita Manjrekar is a Sr. Associate at Sunanda Speciality Coatings Pvt. Ltd and oversees Sunanda's R&D, with a specific focus on developing and marketing Sunanda's line of sustainable construction chemicals. In this role, Ishita draws on 4 years of rich experience in sustainability at Primary Global Research in San Francisco and New York. While at Primary Global Research Ishita led the "Green Technologies" business unit. Ishita spoke on the latest innovations in sustainable underwater concreting practices at the International Conference on Sustainability organized by the India Chapter of American Concrete Institute at Mumbai. As an expert in green construction chemicals, Ishita is often invited to be on peer review panels for papers published in National and International publications.

Ms. Manjrekar holds a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai (erstwhile UDCT) and holds a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer (RPI) in New York, USA.

NBM&CW April 2012
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