Axzon Enhances Tracking of IT Assets by Adding Wireless, Battery-free Temperature and Leak Detection Capabilities

Article By : Axzon Inc.

Axzon has expanded its portfolio of smart passive sensing solutions by enhancing RFID asset tracking systems with real-time temperature and leak detection monitoring for data centers.

Axzon Inc. continues to blaze the trail in the field of RFID smart passive sensors with the Magnus sensor family of passive RFID battery-free sensors enhancing the asset tracking function with temperature and leak monitoring capabilities identifying potential failure points within data centers before disaster strikes.

RFID is fast becoming the technology of choice for data center managers to enhance the tracking of IT assets and increase regulatory compliance, improve auditing procedures, and reduce the costs associated with IT asset management.

In data center RFID deployments, passive UHF RFID tags are typically mounted on the front bezel of each IT device. The tag’s unique identifier is linked to the device’s ID in a database. This database contains information about the device’s make and model, purchase and “in service” date, and any maintenance performed on the unit. Also included in the database may be financial information about the device, its economic life, its end-of-life date, and rack level location information.

UHF RFID deployments can now be taken to the next step, with the same tag also providing valuable information on the temperature of each asset that is being tracked. For example, monitoring the temperature at multiple locations inside a data center can provide helpful information about the efficiency of the facility’s cooling systems.

Every 1°C increase in ambient temperature leads to a corresponding 1°C increase in the temperature of the CPU. Hot spots borne of airflow deficiencies and other disruptive conditions can result in isolated instances of critical equipment becoming at risk of overheating. There is a clear correlation between rack temperature and CPU temperature, with corresponding reductions in efficiency and shorted service life once the optimum temperature range is exceeded. Having detailed visibility of data center temperatures allows management to react quickly if they discover signs of rack temperature exceeding safe thresholds.

Axzon’s UHF RFID temperature sensors can be placed in multiple locations on the front and rear at the top, middle, and bottom to monitor air intake and exhaust temperatures. Multiple sensors per rack can generate precise temperature and airflow models for high-density facilities, which is highly recommended.

In addition to tracking the temperature of the IT assets, RFID sensors are also used to monitor busbars and, switchgear within the power infrastructure of data centers. Unfortunately, failures do occur in this power infrastructure due to incorrect installation, fatigue or corrosion, sometimes with catastrophic results.

One of these failure modes can result in an arc flash. An arc flash is a dramatic event in a data center, where the power infrastructure handles enormous amounts of electricity. Each data hall within a facility houses tens of thousands of servers and hundreds of meters of overhead busways made up of multiple lengths of copper bars. Monitoring every connection and joint to identify potential arc flash points is a costly and manually intensive task, but mistakes’ have the potential to come with a very high cost.

Axzon’s sensors, through the paired RFID reader, can easily be integrated into a real-time temperature monitoring of servers or the infrastructure that powers them. Once connected to your data center’s network, alerts to notify designated staff via SMS message or email can be configured for the second a safe temperature threshold is exceeded.

Data center liquid cooling brings new leak sensor needs

Processing-intensive computing application demands continue to explode, resulting in the need for ever faster and more efficient data centers. To slow the physical size growth of these installations’ operators are driving up the compute power density of their facilities.

Currently, data centers support rack power requirements over 20kW, but the market is headed to 50kW or more. In addition, server manufacturers are packing more CPUs and GPUs into each rack to meet the demands of high-performance computing and AI applications. As a result, the current standard cooling method of moving chilled air can no longer meet the cooling needs.

Liquid cooling systems are now needed to control data center temperatures adequately. Liquid cooling leverages the higher thermal transfer properties of water or other fluids to support efficient and cost-effective cooling of high-density racks. Many times more effective at heat removal than air, liquid cooling is expanding to protect rack-mounted servers in data centers worldwide.

The introduction of liquids into the data center environment brings new monitoring challenges. Even small leaks can have disastrous effects on the equipment and operations of the data center. Routing the wires for traditional leak detection systems is not feasible in many locations and using battery-powered sensors brings its own maintenance challenges.

The use of RFID sensors that require no external power and transmit data wirelessly is an obvious solution to these challenges. Additionally, if the data center already uses RFID to track assets, there is little additional cost or need for system-level integration.


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