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How Vendor Escorting Makes A Difference in Data Center Maintenance

When it comes to data center maintenance, escorting vendors is a top priority. T5 Facilities Management takes extra care in vendor selection and relies on the best vendors to perform at the highest standards. However, the facilities management team realizes it is ultimately up to them to ensure that the vendors complete their work safely and successfully.

At T5, vendor escorting is more than checking identification and walking a vendor through the data center. It is an activity that touches many aspects of “The Four Pillars of T5FM” a unique operating methodology that is fundamental to achieving “7x24xForever”. Before a vendor has come to our gate, our facilities team has prepared for the visit by:

  • Confirming the scope of work through our CMMS
  • Approving the planned maintenance and issuing a ‘permit to work’
  • Determining vendor employees to be on-site
  • Verifying the scope of work and maintenance hours against our impacted customers’ SLAs
  • Sending alerts to our customers detailing the scope of work, systems impacted, risks involved, and our risk mitigation strategy

So how does T5 Facilities Management achieve “7x24xForever” without any hiccups? We rigorously follow the T5 policies and procedures for vendor escorting because we understand that most critical systems failures are due to human error. By following our vendor escorting procedures, we mitigate that human error. So what does it mean at T5 to ‘escort’ a vendor? It means we have assigned a facilities technician to ensure, among other items, the following:

  • Approved MOP is on-hand
  • Vendor employees have read and signed off on the Critical Facilities Work Rules
  • Vendor employees are qualified to perform the work
  • All equipment, tools and parts (including critical spare inventory replacement parts) needed are on hand
  • Prohibited work is not performed
  • Work area containment policies are enforced
  • No device is plugged into any outlet in a data hall without assistance/verification
  • Work is labeled per T5FM policies
  • Airborne contaminant and liquid discharge mitigation procedures are followed
  • Shift handoff and briefing are conducted, if required
  • Suspicious activities are reported, and security policies are followed
  • Raised floor/perforated tile management policies are adhered to
  • Clean up is conducted
  • Sign-off on work is completed

When critical I.T. equipment cannot tolerate a voltage loss or disturbance of as little as one 60Hz cycle, strict adherence to vendor escorting rules is crucial to ensure that T5 meets its total availability commitment to our customers. For these reasons, vendor escorting is an ongoing topic of discussion that benefits from our continual improvement process embedded in “The Four Pillars of T5FM”.

T5 uses vendors and contractors who have been fully vetted, and with whom we have a long-standing relationship. Ultimately, T5 is responsible for ensuring all planned maintenance and critical work is done correctly. Mistakes can happen, but if they do, we are there to remediate the situation immediately to eliminate risk. Vendor escorting may sound simple, but it is rarely a cut and dry event. Every situation is unique, and our data center technicians are trained to adapt to all situations and to respond professionally and accurately.

From the time a vendor steps foot in one of our data centers, they are under constant supervision. Why so strict? At the end of the day it’s our equipment, and vendor escorting is a key component in our 100% uptime goal. We may catch something the contractor missed, observe a tool inside a piece of equipment, or find part of the scope of work was missed. None of these things are uncommon. That is why we are there to oversee the work and to make sure that everyone is following T5 procedures to the “T”. We are held to a high standard, and we hold our vendors to that same standard. Maintaining “7x24xForever” is our number one goal.

Written by Travis Gilbert, Critical Facilities Technician

Travis Gilbert is a Critical Facilities Technician with T5@Dallas. Travis has experience as a service technician in electrical installations and troubleshooting of critical distribution equipment in many large data centers across the DFW metroplex.  He also has experience in fire alarm installations in large commercial applications, including one of the largest fire alarm fiber networks in Texas.

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