Francesc Galobardes, Engineering Director at Quark

We interviewed Francesc Galobardes, director of engineering and facilities management at Quark, about his career in the data center sector.

Francesc Galobardes began his career at Quark as an electrical engineer. He currently is director of engineering and management at Quark-Sener in the facilities department (electricity, air conditioning, ventilation, fire, control, telecommunications).

What inspired you to pursue a career in the data center industry?

My first encounter with the data center industry dates back 16 years. Compared to traditional facility engineering for the tertiary sector, the data center at that time already presented many challenges in terms of both technology and engineering. Many of the designs or basic proposals came from the British market, which at that time was very mature. They reflected concepts that were unknown to me and that brought out the engineer’s skills that we had inside us to be able to move forward with the first project.

To give an order of magnitude, I went from calculating small circuit breakers of 16 amperes to removable circuit breakers of 6,300 amperes; from breaking capacities of 6 kA to foresee currents of up to 100 kA; from 4 mm2 cable to 400 mm2 cable and distribution in prefabricated conduit… For those of you who think it sounds unknown, believe me that I also went through this sensation. You can easily get an idea of the challenge that all this meant, and that, of course, awakened my total curiosity and trapped me in this world.

Since then, technology and knowledge have continued to evolve, in accordance with today’s new challenges that our clients continue to impose on us, as our sector has grown in importance and magnitude. This continues to inspire me, while at the same time requires more and more effort, more training and more specialized tools to be able to respond to increasingly sophisticated designs.

How did you enter Quark?

Entering Quark was the closest thing I had to embarking on an adventure into the unknown. In my previous stage and in order to face this first Data Center expansion project that I mentioned in the previous point, we had the help of Ricardo Abad, who is now one of our CEOs, given his extensive experience in the sector.

After weathering this first storm, Ricardo founded Quark and invited me to join a team of 8 people who were starting out in datacenter design and construction. We were a young team, with eyes set on the future and so eager to learn, taking advantage of new technologies and providing a differential factor to our customers. It was a risky bet in a sector completely unknown to me, but which undoubtedly offered the opportunity to solve new challenges.
Since then, technology and knowledge have continued to evolve, in line with new challenges that our clients continue to bring to us today, as this industry has grown in importance and magnitude. This continues to inspire me, while requiring more and more effort, more training and more specialized tools to be able to respond to increasingly sophisticated designs.

I went from calculating small circuit breakers of 16 amperes to removable circuit breakers of 6,300 amperes.

What business area do you belong to and what do you do?

I am an engineering manager and basically handle everything related to all installation disciplines (electricity, air conditioning, ventilation, fire, control, telecommunications). I work side by side with my fellow sub-discipline leaders, helping the teams in their day-to-day work, both in management tasks and in technical details, resolving doubts, document review, etc.

Along with Quark’s Architecture, Structural and Civil (ASC) team, we set out the basic principles of new designs, define the main strategies for new clients in the market and plan and organize the different project teams according to the needs of each moment.

At the same time, we also provide support to our sales team in the preparation and pitching of tenders and, in very specific cases, we follow up on the accounts of critical clients with whom we have been working for many years.

In view of all this, one can imagine that the day-to-day is very dynamic and no two weeks are the same. Unfortunately, reviewing, sorting and answering emails takes up a good chunk of the daily work time.

Working alongside my colleague Pilar Anastasio, head of CSA discipline, we make biweekly visits to several relevant works as Project Manager.

In addition, I am currently in charge of Quark’s technology team, exploring and implementing new technologies in project teams to provide greater added value to our clients. This front includes training tasks and procedure development, such as work monitoring, project review, BIM, etc.

What are the most outstanding projects you are currently working on?
I joined Quark as an electrical engineer. I was doing calculations, CAD drawing, measurements, equipment specifications, etc. Basically, I was in charge of the whole electrical project, as is the case with other small engineering companies.
Little by little and learning from senior colleagues I started to manage some small projects, in direct contact with the client.
About 6 years ago, and due to the explosion in the Data Center sector, Quark started to become much more vertical. Then I went from managing the electrical team to managing the facilities department together with my colleagues Siddharta Aldavero and Javier Martinez, responsible for Electricity and Mechanics respectively. Today, as part of Sener group, we are 84 people.

The global customers we work with give us the opportunity to use or “experiment” with new technologies in Europe.

How do you envision projects you work on influencing the world or society today / in the future?

Data Centers are the answer to the great demand for IT services in society. In any corner of the world, whether for leisure or for work, we all use tools or services that require a backup IT infrastructure. With the emergence of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the adoption of cloud computing, computing and storage needs have surpassed the exponential trend that has been observed for years.

The Data Center size has ceased to be an option and has become a requirement of today’s modern society, which is trying to respond to the immediate future that we can only glimpse.

How do you keep up to date with the general knowledge and trends in your sector?

The Data Center sector is very particular and conservative, due to the continuity requirements imposed from the IT side. Changes are often brought about by new technologies or products from the manufacturers themselves. Therefore, we have a very close contact with them and we participate very frequently in talks, exhibitions, training and other activities.

On the other hand, some of the global customers we work with give us the opportunity to use or “experiment” with new technologies in Europe because they already have a much higher degree of adoption in other parts of the world such as the USA.

Finally, another way to be updated on knowledge and trends are the periodic events that are organized both in Spain and Europe, such as Data Center Dynamics.

What differentiates Quark-Sener from its competitors?

Whether by chance or causality, at Quark-Sener we have been able to work very closely with global clients whose requirements in many cases exceeded the capabilities available in the Spanish engineering market. Even though the learning curve has been hard in many moments, the know-how we have acquired during this process allows us to speak with our clients in the same language, to provide them with added value and to give answers to their challenges.

Despite the fact that we are often unaware of all this, as it is already part of our DNA, having adopted their language, procedures and vision not only differentiates us from our competitors, but also puts us far ahead of them.

What are your mid-term challenges?

In our industry, mid-term seems more and more immediate, but practically all challenges derive from the magnitude of the data centers.

The power and size required by these facilities demand a shift away from the traditional approach to design, utilizing new types of equipment and evaluating alternative energy sources that were unthinkable until recently.

Likewise, as IT technologies need to be deployed more quickly, design processes will have to be much faster and more efficient, focusing efforts where the equipment really adds the most value. It will be necessary to work on processes and tools that provide us with this possibility internally.

In addition, sustainability has gained relevance as powers have grown until it has become one of the main negative factors of Data Centers at a media level. This sector itself is setting ahead of some European directives, therefore, it will be necessary to adopt new technologies that allow the best use of waste heat and new energy management strategies that go hand in hand with distribution and production utilities. It will also be essential to jointly manage renewable energy sources and, in longer term, to evaluate the use of more disruptive energy sources.

We thought these 15 years in our industry could not last much longer, but it turns out to be the opposite and it seems we will continue to enjoy growth and get further and further on this journey.

This site uses third-party cookies to improve your browsing experience.