Eaton Talks Products and Power Chain Management at Data Center World update from June 2023

At Data Center World 2023, power management vendor Eaton detailed its products, commitment to sustainability, and future plans in the data center industry.

Data Center World 2023: Omdia's Alan Howard and Eaton's Forrest Secosky

The physical infrastructure market has been exploding over the last two years, as Eaton continues to serve the data center segment with end-to-end technologies. In this video, Forrest Secosky details why everything from equipment to utility-level technology can be provided by Eaton through a sustainable lens.

The transcript follows below. Minor edits have been made for clarity.


Alan Howard: Hello, everyone, and welcome from Data Center Knowledge, here at Data Center World. My name is Alan Howard. I am a data center analyst with Omdia, which is a sister brand to Data Center Knowledge here at Informa Tech. Today, I'm joined by Forrest Secosky, who is the Data Center Commercial Marketing Manager for Eaton. Forrest, thanks so much for spending some time with us. 

Forrest Secosky: Thank you for having me, Alan. This event has been wonderful so far and we've gotten a lot of attention. So, it's been a joy just to be here and be present in Austin at this time in the market.

Alan: I know the weather's super nice outside. So, what we want to do is we want to go through and get an overall idea of Eaton, and then dive a little bit deeper into products and some of how your organization works. But let's start with, how did you end up in this industry working for a physical infrastructure vendor in the Data Center Market? 

Related:Looking Back at Data Center World 2023: 3 Concerns That Stood Out

Forrest: Sure, thank you, Alan. I started with Eaton in 2007, on the sales side, working on takeoffs and designing electrical equipment for the commercial market in the Northern Ohio region. I transitioned into an operations role and then into an engineering role where I was designing modular data centers and modular substations, before joining this group right now.  So, I've had a variety of roles from sales to operations, and I found a passion around this data center side because it is such a dynamic and growing segment for just the market, but overall, like Eaton. I mean, we've invested so much in it, and we just continue to grow and have a lot of new products and solutions that we can offer. 

Alan: So, in the physical infrastructure market, it has just been almost exploding for the last two years and it looks like it's going to continue that momentum over the next three to four years. So, give us just a general overview of the scope of products Eaton has to offer for data center operators.

Forrest: Sure. Eaton, as you may know, is over 100 years old.  I like to highlight our emphasis on, say, doing business right and just the idea that we've won over 11 awards just in that segment of ethics by Ethisphere Institute themselves. So, we pride ourselves on doing business right and running an ethical operation. You know, that said, with serving the data center segment itself, we have end-to-end solutions. And what I mean by end-to-end solutions is that it's not just the black boxes that you see here in our booth. From our 93-95 XC to our 93PM, and even the rack solutions, it's also all the way up to the utility level. We go from the power transmission at the utility level to the racks, the PDUs, and the connectivity solutions inside there of all the equipment -

Alan: Let me clarify quickly. So, you're talking about essentially providing products that integrate with each other across the entire power distribution chain.

Forrest: Sure!

Alan: Yeah, okay. I'm sorry, Go ahead. 

Forrest: No, you're right. We would call that power chain management. And we've transformed Eaton from a diversified industrial company to an intelligent power management company. And so beyond that equipment, how do you control it?  How do you integrate it?  How do you hit your goals of sustainability? And within that space, we have our bright layer data center suite of offerings. So, it's module-based, but it's just this overarching system that can monitor and control all of those assets at once. 

Alan: So, I mean, within the scope of your products, I mean, obviously you can't be in this industry without a heavy focus on sustainability. So, talk for a minute about efficiency or sustainability across your product set, and then I'm going to ask you about how Eaton's doing it. 

Forrest: Sure. So as far as sustainability within our product set that we've come up with, not a new tagline, but a new, let's say press release just recently where we're focused on data centers as a grid. And there are three parts to that: and it's the reliability, the sustainability, and the revenue-generating aspects of what a data center can be and what we can help them be. And when I think of reliability, a lot of times for backup power in a data center, we've relied heavily on diesel gen-sets in the past. Well, Eaton has invested a lot of time and effort into exploring a generator alternative. Maybe it's not a generator replacement completely. But how do we incorporate other solutions, like our microgrids or our battery energy storage systems, and take those on the outside of the data center and integrate those into the data center for better reliability? But that also ties into sustainability. You know, when we think of microgrids and the reduction of reliance on fossil fuels from a diesel generator set, those can help companies hit those sustainability goals.

Alan: So, in other words, you're staying ahead of the curve in terms of the kind of demand for new solutions in the data center as opposed to what we've just been doing for the last, you know, 50 years. So that's good to hear. And so, you know, with sustainability being so top of mind, how’s Eaton walking the walk? What's Eaton doing? 

Forrest: So, our 2030 goals in summary, and a couple of key points are that we want to be able to reduce our carbon emissions by 50% in our operations in just the next seven years or so. In that same timeframe, we're looking to just reduce the overall carbon emissions of our supply chain. But one that stands out even more is that we want 100% of our sites to be zero waste to landfill.

Alan: Oh, and that's a big deal. 

Forrest: Yeah, and I think that is too, just from a manufacturing standpoint, is like, how do you even do that? And so, a couple of just examples that I've seen is that a lot of times we’re locating our plants very close to where our suppliers are, whether that's a component supplier or a sub-assembly supplier. That helps us not only reduce the transportation time in our supply chain but also just the carbon emission associated with transporting from longer distances. So, we have suppliers that are located close to our operations. And then we're also using a lot of reusable packing materials. We might build a custom crate out of steel that ships parts back and forth to a supplier, instead of boxing them up and putting wrapping materials in there or packing peanuts. Reusable. So, we're investing a lot of time in that, and all these initiatives, I think of them as being employee-led too. So, it's our employees within these facilities coming up with these ideas – sharing them with the other facilities. I think it was probably close to 10 years ago when I noticed the first award of a site at Eaton going zero waste to landfill. And it just blew my mind that like, how do you do that? And so those are just some of the examples I’ve seen of how they've achieved that.

Alan: You know, it's a fascinating story because, in most of the industry, it's talked about. We're not really addressing zero waste to landfill in an aggressive way. So that's a good story to have. So, what does the future look like? I mean, in terms of Eaton and what your plans are, give us a look on the inside.

Forrest: Sure. We put out a video on YouTube just recently. So, if you look up Eaton's critical power in digital infrastructure, a division, like we have a data center of the future video out on YouTube that you can watch. And it focuses on what we talked about already: sustainability, reliability, and revenue-generating. And when I think of that last one, being revenue generating, it's when you incorporate microgrids and even our next-generation UPS, which can interact with the grid and share the load back onto the grid or help a utility provider manage frequency issues that they're having. You can turn the assets in that data center into revenue-generating assets instead. So, that's kind of that last component of data centers as a grid, is that revenue side. But when it comes to future products, a lot of the future products that we're looking at, and we've seen even here at Data Center World this week, are liquid-cooled. For example, our electric vehicle DC charger has liquid cooling technology in it. I'm sure people have already seen computing assets that have liquid cooling integrated into them to help with that increased thermal load that we're seeing. But now, it's can we immerse our equipment into like say a bath of a dielectric fluid and cool our equipment that way? In emerging cooling technology. So, we're looking at this like the liquid cooling side to manage what is out there and generating the heat in the future.

Alan: It's such an exciting time in the data center industry, and advances in technology and efficiency are just going so fast. Forrest, thanks so much for sharing with us and I appreciate it. And good luck to Eaton and good luck at Data Center World this week. Well, thanks very much for watching everyone, from Data Center Knowledge and here at Data Center World, Forrest and Alan signing off. 

Forrest: Thank you.

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