A Glimpse Into Panduit’s New Global R&D Headquarters
Panduit recently invited journalists from around the world to visit their new global research and development (R&D) centre located in the Chicago-area suburb of Tinley Park, IL USA. and welcomed them to the company’s corporate headquarters and nearby manufacturing facility.
The Jack E. Caveney Innovation Centre comprises 18,000 square feet (1,672 square meters) of laboratory space and accommodates more than 70 members of Panduit’s research and development team. The centre is named for the founder of Panduit and will carry on his legacy for innovation that began almost 60 years ago. The labs in the complex include a copper transmission lab, a fibre optics lab, an anechoic chamber, a complete data centre thermal lab, and an industrial automation lab, where the company visualizes, tests and develops converged solutions designed to benefit IT migration onto the factory floor.
Panduit has a long-term commitment to R&D and solution innovation, spending up to 10% of net data centre revenue on R&D activities. The corporate R&D centre operates 20+ state-of-the-art labs and is responsible for more than 1.8K patents. The centre works in lock-step with corporate business units and in the manufacture of the final product that is delivered to the customer. The centre is unique because it is focused on innovation rather than the application of the current product. Much of the work that goes on at the centre in research is at the university level and contributes to the forward movement of technology and to standards established by the likes of TIA, ANSI, RoHS and IEEE. Recent industry achievements include an outstanding technical paper award for “Characterization of Modal Dependence of MMF Chromatic Dispersion for Wideband MMF” from the 64th IWCS International Cable & Connectivity Symposium.
Panduit gains in-depth knowledge of our customer’s business and datacentre challenges to develop solutions that add value and are a catalyst for business growth. The company looks at how its customers are applying products in their applications to understand the implications on performance of today’s technologies to create opportunities for next generation products. These innovations are then brought to market through a network of global manufacturing facilities strategically located close to customers.
For today’s large and complex data centre’s that are operating converged applications, Panduit’s R&D organization is focused on:
Fibre Cabling Innovation: With the increase deployment of Software Defined Networks (SDN), “Spine & Leaf” data center architectures, and Cisco’s ACI network platform, the bandwidth and latency requirements associated with the data centre fibre plant becoming more advanced and the cabling links are increasing in distance. To enable cabling links between the core switching and edge switching of an SDN architecture, Panduit is investing heavily in fibre cable and connectivity for multi-mode solutions. Panduit is studying different ways to increase the bandwidth and link distances for multi-mode fibre. This includes innovation in modulated signals, wave division multiplexing, and bi-direction optics to extend bandwidth from 10G to 40/100/200/400G and beyond over extended link distances.
An example of a recent innovation in fibre is the development of Panduit’s Signature Core Fibre Optic Cabling System. Investments in research began more than 10 years ago to extend the reach of multimode fibre. Multimode fibre can now be used in applications where singlemode fibre would have been used. For example, several rows of servers may be located very far from the Main Distribution Area (MDA), beyond the 150m reach of conventional 40/100 GbE systems. In one such application, more than 400 multimode fibre optic ports were implemented using the Signature Core Fibre Optic Cabling System, resulting in a savings of more than $280,000 US dollars. Today Signature Core Fibre Optic Cabling System is a successful product that solves a critical customer need.
Copper Cabling Innovation: For cabling links between the edge “top-of-rack” switching and in-cabinet servers for SDN architectures, Panduit is developing cost effective shielded copper cabling systems to exceed Category 8 standards and provide 40G transmission rates up to link distances of 30 meters.
Thermal Innovation: As data centres continue to converge applications and consolidate, Panduit sees an ever-increasing need to study thermal management practices within data centres. To be an industry leader in innovation, Panduit’s R&D department has invested in a thermal lab consisting of 1,600 square feet (149 square meters) of configurable data centre white space, with 640 kW of IT load and cooling capacity and raised floor, overhead, wall, or row-level cooling methods, that is fully instrumented for monitoring temperature, pressure, power and airflow. With this comprehensive thermal lab, Panduit is able to conduct state-of-the-art CFD and airflow analysis for IT-equipment, cabinets & containment systems to enable optimal cooling management within a data centre.
“The thermal lab is designed to replicate real-world power and cooling challenges experienced in all types of data centres” said Andy Stroede, Senior Vice President, Research and Development… “We are constantly working on innovative solutions that will increase data centre efficiency, such as environmental sensing, cooling control schemes, and thermal management devices.”
Software, IoT and integrated data analytics: Panduit is investing in the development of software systems to monitor, manage and automate the operational efficiency of cooling, power, asset, physical security and intelligent cabling management. These investments will facilitate the convergence of IT and Facilities in the data centre space to optimize operations.
IoT and data analytics are increasing the data traffic within a data centre. These technologies are also being embraced by Panduit to enhance its DCIM offering. The company invests R&D resources on wired and wireless IoT sensor devices to add more intelligence to the day-to-day operations of a data centre. Such IoT devices include temperature, humidity, water/smoke detection, door access, and remote cameras. Panduit is working on next generation DCIM solutions that will integrate advanced IoT intelligence devices with enriched data analytic tools to deliver positive business outcomes.
Innovations created within the Jack E Caveney Innovation Centre are brought to market with precision. Panduit engineers use state-of-the-art technology to produce rapid models of their innovations. Stereolithography (SLA), an additive manufacturing technology, is used to create high-precision models for engineering evaluation. Last year, the Innovation Centre produced more than 15,000 SLA models.
From R&D to the manufacturing of its 9,000+ products, Panduit is deeply committed to innovation and in making investments necessary to deliver technology innovations that drive solid business outcomes for its customers. They deliver scale, agility and operational efficiencies that improve the total cost of ownership of a datacentre’s operation.