With the pressure rising on companies to find eco-friendly ways to deliver products and services, one company in Manchester has quite literally ‘turned on the power’ by transforming their team into exercise machines.
Hosting firm UKFast has been searching for ways to efficiently power its data centre operations and believes it has hit upon a unique power creation method that is even more effective than hydro-electric and wind power.
The R&D team at the business has created battery packs that quite literally harness the energy created through exercise and can then be plugged into the grid to power operations.
Director of Data Centres Stuart Coulson hit upon the equation for success when he joined the cycle to work scheme.
“It’s quite simple really,”says Coulson. “We have 2MVA of power for a data centre site. With a co-efficient this means we need 1800kw/hr, so for 24 hours a day we’re looking at 43,200kw a day.”
From this starting point the magic began. If E = the employee, e; is the energy in and eo is the energy out then Ee; – Eeo = ep (energy produced).
“We then worked out how much exercise each member of the team needed to do and got the company personal trainer to start setting realistic targets. When it comes to the time exercising we discovered that Te-ts=tw-L=8, when tw-L<8 then HR! (which is naturally a factoral!) and that was it, we’d cracked it.” At first UKFast ran the scheme on a voluntary basis and then seizing upon the opportunity, they company legal counsel wrote into the contracts a requirement to do a level of exercise while at your desk during the day, which would allow for the requisite energy generation. The scientific development has seen UKFast employees answering calls while weight lifting and conducting meetings on trampolines while hi-tech battery packs convert their energy into electrical power. Sandra Joist, business liaison for new sales loves the extra challenge during the day. “Before I just had to match customer needs to the solutions that we offer and help them to move their hosting to our network, now I talk to clients from the rowing machine or whilst doing bicep curls,” she says. I’m so committed that I eat my lunch while on one of the many trampolines dotted around the office – just to give that extra level of juice to the cause.” Coulson has hit on UKFast’s UKF – the Unknown Kinetic Factor – and it looks like the only way is up from here. “To power operations, we need 5400kw over every employee. Fortunately for us, every team member gives 110% at all times, which means that they only need to generate 4909kw of natural power and with 150 people in the team, this currently gives us 32.7kw of surplus power each day. “This is ideal, as it gives me just enough power to get home in my electric car each day.” Critics have suggested that the idea of exercising while working is giving people a dual responsibility at work and effectively making them work two full time jobs simultaneously. “At UKFast, we don’t need to worry about that,” says Coulson. “Our culture is such that everyone throws their weight behind a good idea. As long as they’re doing that whilst on an exercise bike, we’re all laughing!”