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ibm1.pngRather than apply a Band-Aid to the problem, IBM opted to completely revamp the site and create a factory of the future.





Mainframe and High-Performance Computing
Revamped computer hardware plant saves energy, cuts costs, and shortens turnaround

Legacy computer hardware eventually needs to be retired. So do the plants that produce it. IBM faced this situation when it began preparing for production of its zEnterprise System in 2007. It quickly became apparent that the company’s mainframe and high-performance computing manufacturing facility in Poughkeepsie, NY, could not produce the direct water-cooled system in sufficient quantities.

Rather than apply a Band-Aid to the problem, IBM opted to completely revamp the site and create a factory of the future. Three years and $30 million later, a 56,000-square-foot area provides space for building and testing the zEnterprise System. For maximum synergy, the Development Lab and supply chain personnel have been relocated to space near the manufacturing floor.

The new plant “provides our highly skilled workforce with up-to-date facilities in which to better utilize their wealth of knowledge and talents,” says Satish Gupta, vice president of systems hardware development.

The project relied heavily on Lean 5S methodology and simulation software, Rockwell’s Arena software for process/material flow optimization, and Innovative Research’s TileFlow for thermodynamic modeling to maximize cooling efficiency. To optimize the layout and conserve resources, planners adopted best-practice design principles used in green data centers.

Energy-saving features included dual-level, zoned, occupancy-sensing, fluorescent lighting, use of 480V equipment instead of 208V, high-efficiency transformers, and water cooling of equipment. Using water instead of air for cooling reduces the volume of air that needs to be circulated and the fan energy to move it. Water is chilled by cooling distribution units, augmented by IBM’s Cool Blue Rear Door Heat eXchangers (RDHX), which capture heat in the test area and transfer it to a renewable cooling source. These measures are expected to save 1.9 million kilowatt/hours annually, or approximately $175,000 at current energy rates.

The new plant’s design also located a clean room for book building within the manufacturing operations, reducing cycle time for the build–and-test process flow by 14% and book work in process by 30%.

“The new manufacturing facility in Poughkeepsie reflects IBM innovation in the design, testing, and assembly of our mainframes and high-end servers,” says Mike Desens, Poughkeepsie senior location executive. “And it underscores our long-term commitment to New York State and the Mid-Hudson Valley.”